FAT GUY IN A LITTLE COAT

I have been putting off writing this article. A lot of times I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I have sat down at the computer to start writing at least half a dozen times and every time I’ve found something to distract me. The kids, a funny video on the internet, doesn’t matter, I’ve managed for three weeks to do anything and everything to avoid typing this. So what you read here is the result of a herculean effort of will to get started. Hope it’s worth it.

The basic reason for avoiding this is that once I write it down (and subsequently publish it) I will officially be on record and (more terrifying) on the hook to change that record. See…I’m fat. Worse, I’m obese (wow, it REALLY hurts to write that and read it back to myself). Some might even say I’m morbidly obese, but I think there’s really only one level of “obese”. When you get the point where your knees and back hurt and you start hating yourself for eating that fast food burger, even as you’re shoving another one in your fat face, calling it fat or obese or morbidly obese doesn’t really matter. To argue it is to distract from the problem. The simple, hard truth is that I’m at a weight that my body is not designed to sustain and if I don’t change my ways, right quick, I’m going to reach a point that I spiral off into…die. I’m going to die an early death, breathing heavy and hating myself all the way to the end.

This is not going to be an “oh poor me” rant. I’m not blaming my upbringing or the education system for not teaching me self-control and food management. I’m not blaming anyone but my fat, stupid self. I did this to me and though there are reasons that I did this, they are just reasons, not excuses. No more goddamn excuses.

Look at this guy in this picture right here. This guy was pretty awesome. He worked out every other day, could bench press his own body weight (240lbs if you wanna know) and could fit into a large size shirt. He didn’t need 2XL or 3XL. Yeah, he was a dumb kid overall and made some stupid choices here and there (smoking jumps to mind first) and his beard-game wasn’t that awesome but his workout and eating habits were on point. Twenty-six-year-old Pappa wasn’t an Adonis, but he wasn’t Michael Moore either.

Flash forward 14 years. I turn 40 in 5 days and I’m almost literally twice the man I was. I weighed myself on the first of the new year and flattened the scale at 349lbs. Jesus have mercy! That’s more than three of my kids combined! Granted, they are only 9, 5, and 9 months, but still…that’s a lot of poundage! My focus now has to be the realization that if I want to see my kids grow up and see my grand-kids I have to lose that poundage.

Most of my birthdays have had very little impact on me. Once I reached adulthood, age became neither something to be proud nor ashamed of; it was just another fact of life. In fact, there are very few birthdays that I actually remember as events in and of themselves. I remember my 35th, because I was in Tanzania and as you can see here, even then I was pretty overweight. If you think Africa is hot (and believe me it IS), try Africa hot with an additional 75 pounds tacked on-that is HOT.

So as I say, very few of my birthdays have been a reason to me for pause or reflection. Forty, however, seems different. Forty seems to have more weight (no pun intended) to it. Forty is a biblical number (40 days of flooding, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, etc). Forty, statistically, means that I’ve lived more than half my life. When I was younger, 40 seemed to be the dividing line between “young” and “old”. Negative forty is the unique temperature at which the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales correspond. And, according to Wikipedia, forty is “The highest number ever counted to on Sesame Street”.

Whatever the reason, 40 means something. For me it means taking stock and assessing. I’m sure write about some of my other stock-taking in other missives, but this one is about my being fat. You see how even now, even AS I’m writing this, I’m still trying to avoid writing about it.

I’m fat and I’m going to change it and I have a plan. A plan that I think will work this time. You see, dear reader, this is not my first attempt at losing weight. I have tried other diets and made other attempts to drop the weight, but I’ve failed pretty consistently for the last 14 years. I have tried to take a good long look at why I failed and I know, especially because of my personal reaction to writing this article, that I have found the answer.

Simply, I’ve had no accountability.

It’s been easy to fail in my weight loss attempts because I didn’t have to answer to anyone. My wife and family have expressed concern, sure, but it’s easy to tune out those closest to you. There’s a weird psychological thing where you are ok with looking like a fool in front of close friends and family but failing in front of crowd is mortifying. This was/is my problem.

So I’m taking down the safety net with this article. No more silent shame in the dark. If I fail at weight loss this time, it’s for all the world to see. They say that sunlight is a great antiseptic, so I’m thinking the same will hold for the septic thoughts and behaviors that have been weighing me down (pun intended).

Not only that, but I’ve decided that I really need to put it all on the line. Obviously, I am not proud of the way my body looks. I used to have no problem walking around with no shirt in public. Now I don’t even like walking around my house. So, I have decided to add further incentive by taking several “before” photos in my current state of “unpleasantness” and have given them on a thumb drive to a trusted associate with the strict instructions to publish them on the net if I don’t keep losing 8 pounds a month until I hit my goal.

As I close this long tirade out, I figure I should lay out those goals. As I’ve said, on January 1st I weighed in at 349.6 pounds. That skinny Pappa up in the picture there was 240 lbs. I’m not sure that I can reasonably make it back to 240, but I’d take happily 260. So that’s the goal: 8 pounds a month until I hit 260. By my calculations I’ll need about 11.5 months to do that, so by mid-December of 2017 I should be half the man I used to be.

I’ll be posting regular updates here, both for you dear reader and my aforementioned executioner to keep tabs. Any words of encouragement, tips or tricks, or any questions you might have about this challenge are most welcome. Thanks for reading and I see you in the stream.

~Pappa

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