By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
July 27, 2015
What do you think is the most common problem for a person to overcome when they are in the middle of a fat loss journey? Is it the crippling self doubt that will try to derail and influence you back into the old life that was so easy to fall in to? Is it the lack of support from your family and friends, who regarded you as some kind of grotesque sideshow figure that either reflected their own self being or provided an easy reminder that you are the reminder of failure? Or is it the fact that true fat loss, attained through whatever regimen you seek out, will take longer than any television or movie or super duper weight loss program can provide. It is something that will have to be maintained and monitored for many years, mainly because just about everything that is available to us in our society which we do not control directly can adversely affect our weight. Some are close enough to the endgame to attain their goal in less time, while people like myself are much further. Deep down, that fat guy that loved eating four pizzas a week is still lingering, wanting to come out. He shows up after a horrible day at work (which is often) or after a huge run or a really difficult workout Jon has dished out (a.k.a. a “Christa” workout. hehe….
that Christa comment, that’s gonna get me in trouble). Since I was something of a recluse and hated taking photos, seeing the old images of me are still startling. They jolt me like a punch in the stomach and the reaction very much impels me to vomit. While people say realizing how far you have come is a major step in the recovery, I hate seeing how far I have come. Like I have said so many times on other posts, I still can’t believe how much I had let myself go. I can’t believe shirts that would be a tent for most people were tight and unflattering on me. I saw it a few weeks ago when I watched an old video of myself where I looked like I was at least 250 or 260 pounds. This was way back in 2000, when I thought I was a little thinner back then. I mean, just two years before I was playing basketball at the gym for hours on end, zigzagging the campus of the University of Arizona and eating only “two” bean burritos at a time at Taco Bell (as opposed to the 12-pack of tacos as a “snack”). Literally, it was about the time I got a car when the weight just started packing on. I always joked that would happen but little did I know it would actually do so. I was 216 pounds in 1998.
I’m getting all pensive on you because once again I had another horrible reminder of what I used to be. My father was sending some old photos of one of our old dogs, when he decided to send a photo of me and my grandmother less than three years before she passed away. My grandma Lupe was a tireless fighter, having gone through difficult issues with her heart before finally succumbing in 2010. I cherish the fact I still have her old hutch in my kitchen, home to all of my old drinking glasses I collected back when I really liked liquor and would get the specialty gift sets. Most of them are gaining dust these days, merely because I don’t drink liquor anymore. Heck, I think I have literally gone out to drink only five times this year, and two of them were a couple weekends ago. I’m about to get rid of the last six bottles I kept for the heck of it, which were the last remnants of a bold 150-bottle collection or unique spirits, and don’t forget I doubled up on many of them. Anyway, here was this photo of me and my grandmother, and I looked gigantic. I remember trying on that shirt in the photo two years after I started going to Parsons Training, for it felt more like a skirt than a button down shirt. I contemplate what could have been if I had never stopped. I could be in the ground due to my terrible health and horrible decisions, unlike my grandmother who died of old age. That shirts hopefully being worn by someone that needed it, because I gave it to the clothing bank last year along with a lot of other 4X and 3X sized clothing.
I look back on this entire time, and my condition wasn’t because of culture or genetics or even my friends. It was because of the conscious decisions I made that would destroy me. I just sat around and did nothing, watching TV and snacking on crap. It’s no real surprise that I got heavy, but it is still a surprise to me that I somehow managed to get as heavy as I did. But in retrospect, I have come to terms in dealing with that part of my life, for I have taken full responsibility in regards to my past problems. I don’t pass it on to anyone else. While I certainly have regrets, I at least have taken the steps to try and battle the old me with plenty of help from others. I still have conniptions about the loose skin that is kind of hanging around my stomach, growing impatient with the lingering of it. It’s kind of funny, for on the upper part of my torso it looks like abs are trying to escape, but the loose skin kind of covers up the rest. All I can say is I have to be patient.
I did get a nice boost from an old client of Jon’s this past week though. She had only been gone for a few months, mainly due to an injury from the sounds of it. Here I was, busting hump and doing my best to overcome the residual soreness of doing a heavy Tuesday workout, fighting through the 48-hour post period that affects one when they have pushed it too far. For a good 20 minutes Jon and his client went about their business, until Jon just randomly mentions her “Hey, you remember Steve?” She looked around and then saw Jon looking toward me as I was doing overhead presses with 55-pound dumbbells. “I didn’t even recognize you,” she said. Needless to say, I felt a good jolt from that as I powered through the remaining presses. It’s rather funny, after two weeks of thinking I had been gaining weight and porking out, I was brought back to earth to remember it was only two weeks. It wasn’t a year or a lifetime for that matter.
I only start thinking about my body when I really see something interesting on the internet that kind of stirs me up, whether it be in a positive or negative nature. Maybe it had something to do with seeing the long lost music video for this song I dig called “Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun,” (https://youtu.be/u_u5iCHi0Jo) or maybe it was because another chapter in the never ending battle of weight shaming was added. It was kind of a fart in the wind so to speak, wedged between two more mass killings, ethnic churches being burned down and the continued Donald Trump “presidential run.” Well, some guy finally had the guts to say all the things I constantly harp about when it comes to body and health. Of course, he said it in the harshest most profanity laden way. Now I can plainly see the forest for the trees, for the video is merely a very strange commercial for his fitness motivator series, a stream of thought tirade meant to shock your subconscious and what not. https://youtu.be/JXDEe_bg9lM He does bring up some good points, like parents being a better eating influence on their kids, which is something I have always talked about and have even written about. “You feed them trash, their bodies will turn to trash.” Now it is pretty obvious who his audience is, the people who will ingest his message and try to run for 10 miles even though they haven’t run 10 miles total in ten years. And while I have no idea who he is and what his clientele is, the fact he is not a certified personal trainer but a “fitness motivator” kind of raises some red flags in my book.
Now I will admit, when I gained weight in 2014, that was out of laziness. I will gladly admit that. I was content with the way things were going and I never looked at the scale to really verify whether my regimen was working or not. But before that, before May 6, 2012, it wasn’t about laziness. And I think this is the reason poor Mr. Burk’s rant will be nothing more than a Twitter share or the occasional Facebook share for people that have kind of slowed it down in the gym. There are a lot of people that resort to laziness, sure, he has a point there. But there are a lot of people out there who fall into the pattern much like myself. It was an emotional escape, and it was a damn good one because the free fall into the abyss was never-ending as my home town has turned into a mini-foodie outpost. It only seemed perfect that I discovered “Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun” the same week as this video came out, for the video is a stylized car accident, sending two lovers into a forever oblivion that can obviously be characterized as death. They lose everything in the accident as their rings fly off, and their bodies are tossed into the chasm of space. This is the emotional side of obesity realized, the side people don’t want to talk about in any shape or form provided you never do anything to actually fix your health. While so many try to hide the fact through positive reinforcement, stating you should be happy with how you look, the opposing side takes the opposite side and is reincarnated as Burk’s tirade. I think a better video people need to share is one that is more along the lines of my own journey by this Youtube commentator named Boogie2988. https://youtu.be/k7iTP-HaoFg
You hear his story and you realize, being lazy was not really the main reason for his heaviness. While he certainly didn’t exercise much, but if you hear his original story, he was rarely healthy to begin with. In a way he kind of enlightened me a little to my own plight. While I often times get obsessed with the gelatinous skin that hangs around my waist, I make the first mistake of calling it “gelatinous skin” rather than just calling it for what it is. The remnants of my old self, the self I don’t ever want to become ever again. I had the good fortune of not ending up like Boogie2988 (who ironically his name is Steven) and taking a sharp u-turn before things really got out of control. But I think these messages need to meet somewhere in the middle, and have a good little conversation in my mind. I need that hellfire from Burk to keep my ass to the grindstone, to continue working in the gym and keep working hard at work and putting in the time on the track even though my body is getting pounded from my job. I need that because I am physically capable of doing it. But I need to listen to Boogie’s words as well, that hating yourself will never help turn that page either, and in spite of some of my own personal problems some people’s issues are much bigger and much more severe than simply not wanting to deal with failure and emotions.
The fat debate will continue to rage on, and it will continue to be a hate filled vitriolic tirade between two subsets of people that will truly never understand the real difficulty of losing weight and getting healthy. I stopped playing the lazy card a long time ago, because for me it was quite easy to yell at overweight people to put down the fork. But the realizations of my life recently, realizations that indicated to me just how long I have been overweight, have told me some times you are completely oblivious. Some times you don’t really notice. Maybe because between 2000 and 2005, a time I really didn’t think about how heavy I was probably because I was actually kind of happy. Free from my parent’s house, watching hundreds of movies for free, covering sports and meeting sports figures and actually having some luck with women kind of made me forget that I was probably 260 pounds and technically obese. I didn’t have anyone calling me a fat ass or saying I was lazy. Heck, I don’t even have anyone calling me that now! But Boogie mentioned one thing in another video of his….the internet is chalked full of more anti-fat hatred now than it did 10+ years ago. Perhaps that plays into the equation sometimes, that the new forums for spouting off about silly conspiracies and celebrity fashion can be used to maim and hurt the psyche as much as it can inspire. It’s a new thought for me, one I never really contemplated. It seems like a reach, so I will kind of accept it with a grain of salt. But perhaps I need more people doing double takes in their lives, wondering if they actually saw me or some ghost of version of me they were not quite sure of. We shall see.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.