Three years ago I was hovering around 200 pounds. I had consistently been 190 or more for years. This was just the way it was. I felt embarrassed when I would see pictures of myself-especially the dreaded side profile with the full glory of my triple chin and huge gut.
I’m not sure why I decided to lose weight- maybe with our son on the way I decided to get healthy. Maybe it was seeing all the health issues of my parents- my mom had just died of a massive heart attack and my dad had a plethora of issues that stemmed from diabetes to heart disease. I had been checked out by a doctor who couldn’t find anything particularly wrong. But, I knew my genetics were stacked against me.
Whatever the reason or reasons I started losing weight. I tried in the spring of ’08 but could not get below 190. I got discouraged and quit after a couple of weeks. I decided maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal and I had other things to focus on that were more important.
After our son was born my wife got focused on losing the baby weight. She was on fire-getting hotter by the week. I continued to look more like Shrek and knew I had to get serious. It was a whole year since I had tried but decided I could do it this time- I had a different motivation.
In the summer of ’09 I was working a lot of hours and began just eating when I was hungry. My natural hunger cues had been muffled by all the quarter pounders. Now, before you think I was following some diet plan like weigh down or some other plan- I wasn’t. It was a mixture of cutting calories and just not eating unless I was hungry.
Before I knew it I was 175. It was the easiest I had ever lost weight. I decided to just see if I could get back to my college weight. Within months I had hit 160. I no longer had that triple chin or even a double chin. I even looked slender from the side without trying. I shaved my beard and looked 10 years younger.
It’s been three years and I have stayed between 155 and 160. I have perfect cholesterol and blood pressure. My BMI is right where it should be for my height. But, the thing I struggle with most is not eating but rather my body image. I’ve heard the term body dysmorphic disorder. This is where a person focuses obsessively on an aspect of a particular physical feature and sees it as unusual or different than it actually is seen by anyone else. For me, I focus on my gut and think it’s poking out like it did four years ago- completely irrational.
Weekends like this one I just had are where I struggle the most. We went to a wedding and ate out every meal. My stomach is bloated and I feel exactly like I did when I weighed 190-200 pounds. So, in my mind I look like I did then as well. It’s only when I see pictures of myself that I see how ridiculous those thoughts are and that they are lies.
I know this is an unusual post for a guy to write. Guys don’t usually talk body image- and i get it. We’re expected to either have beer guts or be metro. But, I don’t drink beer nor would I consider myself metro. I’m just a regular guy and I just want to feel as healthy as I look. I really don’t even want to have to think about it.
I know this is a struggle a lot of people deal with- men, women and teenagers. Unfortunately even elementary kids are getting in on the poor body image train. It’s a growing problem that’s not going to get better. Our society encourages vanity and indulgence. It’s a joke when magazines feature “plus” size models or “average guys”. But, “we” continue to allow ourselves to be lied to and buy those images.
How do you deal with body image? What do you do with the thoughts that hold you captive to low self esteem and a negative body image? How can we experience freedom in this area?