It was while walking through Wal-Mart this week that it dawned on me how much my thinking has changed about my health over the past couple months.
My son and I were taking our time. We only needed a couple things, and we had time to burn, and I spotted a DVD in the electronics department.
It was a comedy album by Gabriel Iglesias: "I'm Not Fat ... I'm Fluffy" And my mind - as it is prone to do - started to wander. I began thinking of how many people I'm familiar with whose identity is wrapped up in their largeness.
We're almost out of electronics and into sporting goods when I start thinking of baseball: I'm a die-hard baseball fan, and John Kruk is one of the hosts of ESPN's Baseball Tonight. He's a big guy, and he was a big guy in the big leagues. The other day they were recapping a bus tour that he took with fellow ESPN'er Tim Kurkjian during spring training. Much of the highlight reel from this trip consisted of Tim and other ballplayers and managers poking fun at Kruky's weight. He takes it in stride and even self-depracates quite a bit.
My son and I are looking for a gift for a 6-year old birthday party this weekend, and I'm thinking of myself again: how I have frequently lambasted myself as the one people contact when they need something moved or lifted, but not necessarily when they need help with a complicated mental task.
Son still can't figure out what to get: a transformer or a boxed game. I'm thinking of Iglesias again: from what little I remember of him, he makes a LOT of fun of himself and his size.
I see some workout equipment; we'll go back to toys in a minute. I think of one of my late teen/early 20's idols: Chris Farley. I think of Tommy Boy. Black Sheep. Almost Heroes. All the SNL sketches. The Chippendale's sketch with Patrick Swayze still has me howling every time I see it. His size played an enormous part of his schtick, as well. If I remember correctly, he was about 5'8" and his death was attributed to a combination of his size (296 pounds) and his abuse of alcohol and drugs. But this gets me, too. Chris Farley died 2 months short of his 34th birthday.
Son thinks he's made up his mind what to buy his friend. I'm thinking about myself again. I'm 34 years old. And when I was 4 months short of my own 34th birthday, I weighed 303 pounds. Granted I was not abusing alcohol or drugs and my weight is on a frame 4 inches taller than Farley's, but holy crap. Put Chris Farley and I on either end of a teeter-totter at age 33-1/2 and I actually have HIM in the air while my feet are on the ground.
He's decided: "Tokyo Mater," apparently a Japanese spin-off of Tow Mater from CARS. I'm thinking about other comedians. So many people attribute the majority of their comedic prowess to their size. What would these people have if they weren't fat? Of what (or whom) would they make fun? John Candy. Ralphie May. Lavelle Crawford. John Pinette. Kevin James. But for a lot of these guys, because their only "funny" stuff was making fun of themselves, they often lose a major part of their act. This article just got published last week. Drew Carey and John Goodman don't have their bodies to laugh at anymore. Seth Rogen is another recent one who lost weight, but I his comedy seems to revolve a lot less around his weight. And he's a lot younger. His career is probably fine, and Carey's and Goodman's were mostly over anyway.
He changed his mind again. He wants a transformer for his friend's gift. I'm thinking about excuses. About how fat comedians give everyone else a reason to laugh at fat people everywhere. How is that fair? I didn't give all the skinny people the right to laugh at me. Louis Anderson did. Julio Iglesias did. Chris Farley did. It's just like those of us who are white being able to tell black jokes if a black friend of ours told it to us first. Does that really give us license to make fun of an entire race?
We need to pick up some new shoes. Thank goodness for $10 shoes at Wal-Mart. He'll outgrow them before he wears them out. And I'm thinking about my old mindset. The overweight one. I KNEW I was overweight. The actual medical term for my weight at my peak (303 pounds) is "morbidly obese."
mor·bid: of, relating to, or characteristic of disease
I've shed the "morbid" adjective, but I'm still considered "obese." I will be for another 37 pounds. That's when I graduate to the "overweight" category. Fabulous.
He's got his shoes, and I've just let him wear them. We'll put his old shoes in the bag at the register. I'm realizing how apathetic I was. Hypocritical, too. When I didn't care about weight loss, I often talked like I wanted to lose. And I had good advice for those who wanted to. I can only imagine what that seemed like to those receiving the advice. Dude who weighs 270-300 pounds and can't run for more than a minute giving advice on how to get fit?
We're checking out and I'm paying. He's got a loose tooth which would be his first "lost tooth" just an hour or so later. And I'm still thinking: as scary as it sounds, I remember thinking the following many times: I'd much rather just enjoy the life I have by indulging myself rather than worrying so much about what I'm eating. I know my life might be shorter, but at least I'll enjoy it.
That memory hit me like a Mac truck on our stroll through Wal-Mart. I had convinced myself that I was happier as a fat person. And that rationalization seems ludicrous, but I was completely convinced. I was enjoying my life so much more being morbidly obese than I ever could being fit.
We're walking out the door. He's seen so many commercials for Pillow Pets that he wants one off the shelf near the exit. I'm thinking about how amazing our brains are. So amazing that we could actually convince ourselves that we're doing the right thing when we're clearly not.
We're headed home, but it's late, so we're getting drive through. To my surprise, Carl's Jr. has a section of their menu endorsed by Men's Health and the "Eat This, Not That" book. I get a turkey teryaki burger that comes in at just 470 calories. For the growing boy, a cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard, and pickles.
It all makes sense now. My thought train and my present world kind of merged at this point.
Now I get it. I traveled 41 miles by foot in the month of March - almost all of it running. That matches my personal record for a month that was set at my peak of training in 2008. Also in March, I consumed fewer than 60,000 calories (under 2,000 per day).
My training schedule calls for 57 miles in April. On May 7 I run my first 10K. And I cannot remember a time in my life when I was more proud of what I was doing.
Or better yet - of what I was thinking.