They’re rare, but every now and then in your lifetime, there will come some type of rude awakening that you need to drastically change your lifestyle. For me, this occurs only in desperate situations.
When I was unemployed for four months straight, with no prospect of a job on the horizon, I started writing a screenplay. I worked on it for four months, made significant progress, then stopped. I still haven’t finished it.
Six years ago (damn, that hurts just typing that out), I was a college freshman. That should have been the year I had the most fun in my life by virtue of partying, slacking and hooking up with as many girls as I could possibly muster. While it was indeed a memorable year, it was abated somewhat by the fact that, at the time, I weighed more than I ever did in my life.
As I child I was always a skinny kid. Up until I was about 14, you could always see my rib cage, regardless of what I ate. But when I entered high school, I finally gained weight and for the first time in my life, I actually had fat on my stomach. The trend continued up until my senior year of high school. Ten months later, after eating Taco Bell nearly every day for lunch, I ballooned. By the time senior prom rolled around — I was fat.
Then came college. I remained ignorant to my fatness, and continued to add a little more weight.
Finally, when I hit my peak-weight at 191 pounds (I was approximately 5’8), I realized that it was time for a change. I can’t exactly say what the precise moment was that helped me realize it, but it may have had something to do with waking up every morning hating myself.
I fully acknowledged that I was a fat mess, that I was completely unattractive, and that it was nobody’s fault but myself. I hadn’t set foot in a gym in years. But one morning, I remember, I woke up, and I said, “I’m going to lose a lot of weight.”
Not a little weight, not some weight, but a lot.
From that day forward, I made a point to exercise every single day. I recall the first day at the gym, and almost passing out after using the stairmaster for four minutes. It was that bad.
But I was resilient. I ran every day, even threw a little lifting in here and there, and seriously reduced my food intake. In truth, I didn’t diet. I simply just stopped eating. I was probably digesting about half the calories that humans require for a day. But hey, it worked. I wouldn’t recommend it — but it worked.
Several months later, I was down about 30 lbs., and though I wasn’t still in great shape, I was no longer fat. However, when you are determined to lose weight, you acquire a skewed body image of yourself, and I remained convinced that there was more weight to be lost. Another several months later, I lost another 20 pounds, and the lowest I remember weighing myself was 139 pounds. Yikes.
Don’t worry, within a few months after that, I was back at a healthy 150, and haven’t dipped below that since.
That same day I vowed to lose weight, I also subconsciously made another vow. Not only was I going to stop being fat, but I was going to stop being fat forever.
I am convinced that everyone — at some point in their lives — needs to become overweight. Because only then can you fully appreciate the importance of maintaining good physical shape. Because I know the downs, the lows, and the misery that comes with having a poor body image, and I fully understand the consequences of allowing it to happen again.
It’s been four years since I lost all that weight, and since then, my workout habits have been inconsistent. I still always run, but I go though stretches between actually working out.
Shortly after getting my job in August 2010, I gained about 15 lbs. as a result of sitting in a cubicle six hours a day, and not hitting the gym as much as I adapted to the working life. So I signed up for the gym, went almost every day for about six months, and as a result, I entered the best shape of my life.
But, as life so goes, I stopped again.
Up until this week, I haven’t lifted a weight in over a year. I used to be able to do 40 push-ups at will without breaking a sweat. I could lift a 30 lb. weight like I was lifting a newspaper. I last went for my physical in the spring of 2011, and I checked in at 151 lbs. Perfectly healthy. Since then, I’ve pretended that I still weigh 151 lbs.
Recently, I’ve slowly lifted my cloud of denial and realized that I am on my way towards becoming fat again. I’ve looked at myself without a shirt on, and it’s not pretty.
But what was that final point of awakening? Well, a couple of weeks ago I was at a friend’s house, and he had a pull-up bar attached to his doorway. In the past, I could do at least 10 pull-ups without a problem. So I lifted my arms, grabbed the bar, and did some pull-ups for shits and giggles. I could only do three.
I could only do three.
I could not have been more ashamed of myself. Men are no longer expected to be barbaric physical specimens who must protect their families at all times from outside invasion — however, we still are expected to be strong and able. Right now, I am not.
It was those three pull-ups that awakened me to return to a more strenuous workout regiment. I started it yesterday, and I know, I know, that I will continue. Give me four or five months, and I will be fit again.
The point is that you need these awakenings to kick you in the ass every now and then. Nobody is going to maintain a perfect body weight for the entirety of their lives. We’re not all Lance Armstrong. Your only hope is that these awakenings come to you sooner than they do for most people. My first awakening came to me when I was borderline obese. And from what I can tell from some of my Facebook friends, I can see that is the same for them, too. I’m just glad I got mine out of the way when I was younger.
I suppose something that one never thinks about after losing weight is the possibility that you could one day become fat again. Once you accomplish something, and feel great about yourself, and it is easy to lose sight and become a little deluded with your perception of yourself. Just take Jonah Hill, for example. The dude lost a shit ton of weight, looked skinny as hell, and now he’s fat again.
Even if I do become fit again, and lose about 10-15 lbs., I’m sure in a few years from now (if not sooner), the process will repeat itself. Who knows what the rude awakening will be then.
All I know is that at the end of the summer, I am going back to my friend’s place and returning to his pull-up bar.
I am going to make that thing my bitch.