Long time coming, this entry … well, any entry, actually. Let’s deal with this part right away: there are going to be weird hieroglyphs in the body of these posts. Random question marks, perhaps a stray dollar sign or two; it’s inevitable, as apparently WordPress and Safari are in a pissing contest to see who can make me angrier. Why do they want to make me angry? They wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…
I tell you this because I’m a guy who can’t get past small details; I can write something hilarious, something I’d be proud to show to anybody … until I see a misplaced comma or an unchecked spelling error and I want to punch myself in the face for being so fucking stupid. Not the best way to live your life, but for some reason I can’t shake it. Funny thing is…
Seriously, nobody gives a good fuck about spelling errors, punctuation; Christ, posts I read on the Internet look like someone dropped their laptop from a roof. I’ve worked for television shows with professional writers, and I’ve seen these people turn in scripts that, if they left my desk, I would crawl through the office ceiling like John Bender to make sure nobody saw them. Yet there was never any blowback; the script supervisors did their jobs, the funny came out on the other end, and everybody was happy. So with this series I turn over a new leaf; I’m going to try to let things go, cut myself a little slack, pretend that things like misspellings and semicolon usage don’t matter and concentrate on the bigger task at hand. Mainly, grabbing hold of my fucking life.
A brief thumbnail for newcomers: I’m a fat guy, always have been … but for a while I was completely out of control, blowing up to a high of over 500 lbs. I was down to a svelte 490 lbs. on July 1, 2005, the date I underwent gastric bypass surgery. I was three weeks away from my 38th birthday, and I had spent my entire adult life eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I can go into the mental reasons for this, but who the fuck cares? Childhood blah blah food and abandonment issues blah blah blah; we’ve all got nonsense we have to sort out, the point is I was aware of the problem and knew if I didn’t do something soon I’d be dead. Dead, without accomplishing … well, anything, to be truthful. The only thing I had to be truly proud of was that I had somehow convinced a good woman to love me. While that’s admirable, this isn’t 1880, and I’m not some dust farmer on the prairie. I’m going to need a bit more than that to feel satisfied – and by the way, I type that knowing full well I’ll never be satisfied. Which might get to the root of why I was shoving hams down my gullet at a record pace, but I digress…
I had run rampant for twenty years, and now it was time to pay the check. I went into the procedure with no fear, no trepidation; in their place were excitement and enthusiasm. When my surgeon had asked for my goals, I actually uttered the sappiest thing I’d ever said - “I just want to run again” – and I fucking meant it. In reality, I’m sure what I meant was, “I want to be a kid again, I want to play football with my friends and pretend that I haven’t made such a huge fucking mess of things. Please help me erase the last twenty-five years of horrible choices. You can do that, right Doctor? You can turn me into the guy I thought I was going to be all along, right?” but it came out “I want to run again”. Good on me, as the actual thought probably wouldn’t fit on a dust jacket, let alone inspire people to take a second look. Even in my most desperate of hours I was – at least subconsciously - thinking about the marketing.
So, I had the surgery, and now I will address the obese among us; skinny people, go eat a fucking carrot or buy clothes without trying them on, whatever it is you people do, as the next few lines will be like a foreign language to you…
Okay, healthy people gone? Good.
Fat people, I tell you from the bottom of my plaque-filled heart that it was the best decision I’ve ever made. By all means try anything else you can to lose weight, but if you’ve put yourself in the position I was in, where you’ve painted yourself into a fat corner with a fat brush and you don’t want to leave fat footprints all over the place trying to fix things, and you feel you’ve exhausted all other options, get this surgery. You will receive disdain from the weirdest sources – in fact, I was originally scheduled for the procedure in 2001 and one of my best friends in the world, someone I’ve known for thirty years, told me I was a cheater, and ranted about how getting “that surgery” was a copout and raising insurance premiums for people like him. I was shocked, and it fucking hurt to hear that from someone so close to me – in fact, it played a role in my deciding to cancel the surgery. A small fucking role, to be sure – I was also hired for my first television writing job at the time, and if I went through with the operation I would have had to turn it down, which wasn’t fucking happening - but a role nonetheless. Do not listen to these people; they don’t understand how it feels to lug the body you’ve destroyed up and down stairs, the disgusted looks you get when you walk onto a plane, the awful cracking sound a chair makes when it collapses underneath you in a crowded restaurant.
Let’s face it: you’ve become this size by making a lifetime of selfish decisions, whatever your reasons. Well, deciding to undergo this surgery is the ultimate selfish decision, and you should treat it as such. Do the research, get your head right, and welcome all of the feedback from any and everyone you care about … but recognize that you and you alone are responsible for making this decision. Just like you and you alone are responsible for HAVING to make this decision. That’s right, the shape you’re in? It’s your fault … and when something is your fault you don’t point fingers, you take care of it. Again, it was the best decision I’ve ever made; only you can decide what works for you … but I can tell you what doesn’t work for you: whatever the fuck you’re doing now. Take care of it.
Okay, somebody tell the healthy to scurry down the rock-climbing wall and get their narrow asses back in here.
Weight dropped off quickly after the surgery – I lost one hundred pounds in six weeks, I was exercising, eating right, doing everything I was planning on doing. And then I got a job. Normally this would be outstanding news, but here’s another insight into me – I need routine. I need discipline … and by the way, don’t confuse me “needing” those things with me “wanting” those things. I fucking HATE discipline and routine. They go completely against the way I want to live my life – mainly, doing whatever the fuck I want, whenever I want. I saw where that philosophy got me, though, so discipline and routine it was. Wake up, hit the gym at 9:00 AM, get home by 11:00, protein shake … well, I’ll bore you with that later. Getting a job fucked all of that up, or at least I let it fuck that up. Had to be in the office by 10:00 AM, and I certainly wasn’t going to hit the gym at 8:00, so I had to table that, hit the office, sit on my ass and eat office snacks all day. And when you work for a TV show, there is no shortage of office snacks; I’ve eaten more Goldfish crackers than have all the toddlers born in the last ten years combined. And the weight started coming back; not much, but certainly enough for me to notice. I could see it slipping away, and decided to do something about it.
While having a great job may have fucked with my schedule, there was one HUGE benefit: money. And one day, while driving with my wife, I told her I could see it slipping away, and I had to do something about it. I wanted to get a trainer. Now, trainers cost a lot of dough, but I might have mentioned earlier that money was something I now had. So I hit my gym and poured my heart out to the first available guy. I’d had “trainers” when I was up around five bills, and it was always the same: they’d stick me on a treadmill for half an hour, then measure my fat with calipers and write everything down. They didn’t give a fuck about me - probably forgot my name the second I said it – because they figured if I was that fat, there was no way I was going to stick with it. They were right, of course, but I can tell you they played a major part in my disinterested attitude. You’re a TRAINER - TRAIN me, dick! Don’t fucking try to pull tail while fatty busts a capillary in some forgotten corner; do your fucking job! Fat people have enough problems with self-worth without having the guy they’re willing to PAY to HELP them treat them like shit. However, even after all of my previous awful experiences, I was so desperate I was willing to try again. And I got amazingly lucky.
I met a trainer named Richard, and he listened to everything I had to say, looked me in the eye and said, “I’d be honored if you’d let me help you”. He started spitting out plans immediately, and I was signed up for twenty-five sessions before I walked out the door. I got in the car, told Karen what happened, and tried not to cry … to no avail, of course. I’m pretty much a sap, and to have someone understand where I was coming from about what was (and is) the most important issue in my life, and basically ASKING to help me with it … well, I’m not ashamed to say I was moved, even while my cynical side doubted he was serious. But serious he was, and the next twelve months were fantastic.
I lifted HARD with Richard three times a week, closing every session doing rudimentary boxing and Muay Thai. I also signed up for MMA and jiu-jitsu training, doing that on my three off days a week from Richard. Ate right, busted ass, and could not believe how good I felt and looked. Bigger shoulders, arms, found three inches of cock I’d misplaced – it was fucking incredible. On the first day I weighed in with Richard, I was 335 lbs., with almost 48% body fat. The first two months I lost twenty-seven lbs., and kept going from there. Granted, I dropped a ton of cash, but I’ve never felt better in my life than I did driving home from the gym The feeling of accomplishment, catching my jaw line in the rear-view mirror, seeing everything change; listen, I was an arrogant bastard when I was fucking Guinness book fat, now I was on my way to being dangerous. I was so committed I actually exercised WHEN I DIDN’T HAVE TO! When I was on the road I’d find gyms to hit, sometimes just going out walking for no reason. What the fuck? I can’t explain it, I just felt so fucking good. When I weighed in for the final time with Richard, I weighed 267 lbs., and had 18% body fat. I was ready to fucking dominate – doing what I didn’t know, but I knew something was getting dominated. And then … and then a one-two punch knocked my progress the fuck out.
I had lost my job during my training and hadn’t been able to get a new one, certainly not one that paid what my other one had. The money ran out, and I had to cut back; first thing to go was the $250 a month for MMA and jiu-jitsu, followed shortly thereafter by the $1450/25 sessions of personal training. It was weird; I had all the time in the world, but none of the money. I was back where I started, at least financially. What really kicked me in the gut, however, was a visit to my Doctor; I was seeing him every three months, working toward the goal of having all of my excess skin removed. Let me explain: when someone as ridiculously fat as I was loses that much weight, they get a ton of loose skin hanging off of their body, and need to have a “full body tuck” or lift, to remove the second person they now have draped over themselves at all times. I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to that operation; just to be able to run without hearing what used to be my stomach clap against my midsection would have been reward enough. Well, when I brought my 267 lb. self into the Doctor’s office, he was ecstatic, even remarking that by increasing my muscle mass so much I had made the operation less risky. He figured the operation would remove about twenty pounds of useless flesh – yes, I’m trying to sound as creepy as possible – and because my goal weight was around 210 lbs, I only needed to lose forty more pounds to get the operation. Forty pounds! He said it so excitedly, like it was only a matter of time. My tiny fucking brain went a different direction…
“Forty pounds? Is he serious? I’ve lost 230 lbs - the weight of an NFL running back - and he wants me to lose FORTY MORE POUNDS? Without a trainer? What the fuck? I thought this was going well, now I’m going to need at least another six months of work to do this? Haven’t I worked enough? Christ, I lost 230 lbs.; will someone please acknowledge how difficult that was, pat me on the back so I can stroke my ever-shrinking chin and regale you with tales of how if I can do it, anyone can do it? When do I get to fucking relax? When do I get to enjoy this?”
So, yeah, I didn’t take it well.
I let those thoughts paralyze me, and I crawled into a barrel of candy and junk food for the past two years. I stopped taking the daily vitamins and supplements I was supposed to be taking, figuring “why do that if I’m not working out?” And I wasn’t working out, at all – I haven’t broken a forced sweat in at least two years. I haven’t been to the gym, mainly because I’m embarrassed to look Richard in the eyes. He was SO encouraging, so eager to get me where I needed to go, and I’ve spent two years destroying what he built. That guy cared about me more than I cared about myself, and it makes me sick that he’s going to see what I’ve done … not to mention all of the people who would stop to compliment me every day, amazed to hear of my progress. People who actually took inspiration from my efforts are going to see that those efforts were wasted, and that’s going to really hurt.
You know what, though? Boo-hoo, so the fuck what? It’s time to fix this. I’m going to have to go about it a little bit differently, sure, but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is getting to where I need to be, a place I was so close to reaching until my fucking haunted-house of a skull interfered and turned me back into the slacker, settling-for-what-comes idiot I’ve been since I was in third grade.
As I type this, it’s Tuesday night, September 9, 2009. I weigh 340 lbs; that’s seventy pounds heavier than where I was at the peak of my progress, and five pounds more than I was when I met Richard for the first time. My cholesterol is off the charts high, something that’s never been the case. In fact, even at my heaviest the Doctors were always surprised at how healthy I was; before I had the surgery they had to run a battery of tests, and the Doctor said, “Well, your blood pressure is low, cholesterol is too; basically, the only thing wrong with you is the arthritis in your knees and the fact that you’re three hundred pounds overweight.”
Now, however, I’ve done my best to fuck all that up. My legs and back hurt, and I have to wear clothes I thought I’d never again put on. I was recently forced to buy jeans and a belt a waist size up, and if I don’t put the brakes on I’ll have to go up further by the end of the year. I still refuse to wear sweatpants; after living in them for so long, I swore after the surgery that I would never wear another pair. Believe me, the only thing I’ll ever do with sweatpants is hang myself with them. I’m again having trouble sitting next to people on planes, or at the movies; having to be on the receiving end of that look, having to mouth that weak apology for having my “loose meat” ooze over the armrest into their personal space is something I thought was in my past, but I happily spent the last twenty-four months using a knife and fork to dig it up and bring it back.
Some of you have expressed an interest in doing this with me. I’m all for that, and we can figure out a format soon. I’ve been down sick the last week or so, but look forward to contacting you in the next few days to see what you think. I don’t think we need to make this a straight me vs. you deal, but if anyone has a creative idea for something like that I’ll listen. I’m much more concerned with all of us making the progress we want to, and getting out of this whatever it is we envision getting. Me, I want to lose a hundred pounds, preferably by the end of January. Will that happen? Probably not, but I plan on working my balls off to make sure things are different than they have been for the last two years.
I’ve fucked around long enough. Let’s do this.