A journey. An adventure. A path to a better self. A choice.
All of these phrases are phrases I choose to describe what others call “weight loss.”
In my opinion, things aren’t lost if you’re not looking for them. Weight, that leaves my body, is not lost… I don’t want it back (although, frequently, it finds me again). It’s a sacrifice to the gym gods. It’s a gift of time, sweat, and calories I’ve given to the universe.
Actually, it’s not a loss at all, it’s a win.
Look, I’m not fooling myself here, I know it, it’s not a secret: I’m a fat kid. I’ll take a jelly donut over a kale smoothie every day. Every. Day.
I’ve always been a fat kid. As long as I can remember.
When I was in high school, one of the “jocks,” we’ll call him Sam… because that was his name, not because I want to protect his identity with a simple jock-like nom de plume… Sam started to call me “forty-two” in the hallways. The nickname caught on with his sportsball friends. In fact, a football coach even approached me to ask if I had plans to join the team because he had overheard some of “his guys” discussing what he assumed was my pre-selected jersey number, 42.
I tried to be gracious. I tried to smile through the answer. But, no, I had no intentions of joining them on their team – despite their so-called jersey selection process.
You see, Sam and his friends weren’t recruiting me. They weren’t selecting my jersey number or grooming me to be part of their squad. They were hypothesizing my “husky jeans” waist size. Previously, they had been reprimanded for a name they tried to call me, husky, because a teacher at my small, private high school could see through that one. Husky was a little brazen – even for the all-star, top-of-the-heap, kings of the school. But Sam & his boys had gotten creative and created a nickname they could pass off as inclusive not demeaning – I mean, they wanted me to join the team, right? They picked my jersey number and everything. 42. That was my number. I didn’t have a 42-inch waistline, but it didn’t matter, now I was 42.
I tried not to get mad. I tried to use the name calling as motivation to make myself a better person. I gifted some time, sweat, and calories to the universe in an attempt to become less large so Sam would ignore me. I managed to make myself a little smaller (not physically). I made sure none of my jeans had their waist size printed on the back patch – why does Levi’s insist…. Mostly, I just shrunk myself. I became less. I lost myself to their power. Each day became a waiting game. I waited for the day that Sam and his boys would graduate.
Oh shit! They would graduate, right? They were the epitome of lunkhead bullies, so my greatest fear on the first day of the next school-year was that Sam would’ve been held back and would need to repeat Senior year. Well, what’s one more year as 42?
Fortunately, he was gone. But my weight wasn’t – this isn’t one of those Hollywood transformational summer make-over stories where I got buff & became the cool kid. Nope. I was still a fat kid. Now that I wasn’t 42 anymore, I wasn’t too bothered by my weight. I stopped trying to shrink myself. I liked myself, for the most part, and I, generally, felt comfortable in my own skin.
It wasn’t until graduating from college that I re-focused on my weight as much as I had when I spent the year as 42. I woke up one day, a few months before graduation, and thought: I’ll never get hired by anyone if I’m this fat. So, I dropped some pounds and sacrificed some calories to the universe. Still big, but downsized to a societally acceptable, employable size.
I got a job, a good job. Again, my weight wasn’t my focus and I was, generally, happy. Eventually, I moved to Spain. While living in Barcelona, I walked everywhere because I had no car, I was more active than ever. After several months abroad, I returned home having jettisoned more than 75 pounds. I hadn’t tried to burn the calories or destroy the fat, it had just happened because of my European lifestyle.
But, back in America, my life reverted to what it was and some of the weight found me again. Several years passed and I realized, for the first time, I wanted to shed some pounds for me. Not to avoid bullies, not please society or an employer, not to be more fetching to the dating pool, not for anyone. For me.
I began the next chapter of this journey with a protein shake regimen then added a gym membership. I even hired a trainer (Ricky at MVP Metro Club in Downtown, Grand Rapids, does a ton of eye rolls as I argue about running stairs or show up 10 minutes late… but he persists). I’m working my ass off, literally.
I’m not passively losing anything, I’m actively choosing a difficult path on this adventure called life because I want to be healthier and I’ve decided to pursue a goal.
I don’t want to lose weight. I don’t want to lose anything. I want to win.
Photos by me.
Selfies: October/Nov 2015 v 2018
Looking good, Koens!