At my highest weight I toppled close to 400 pounds. It should be noted that I am around 5’ 6”… 5’ 7” in heels. Now I have been pretty chunky my entire life but somewhere around my thirties gravity sped up for me and during a particularly arduous relationship, the “blossoming” continued to Nutty Professor-esque proportions. After the eventual breakup, I dove nose first into poetry and health having facilitated a fairly successful open mic poetry spot in Los Angeles as well as enrolled in Weight Watchers in which I dropped down to an astounding 238 pounds. I took my new frame and celebrated at Atlanta Black Pride where I not only rekindled my love of consistent anonymous sex with a penis that I can see without holding in my stomach… but also with the dens of depravity I call fast food restaurants. Having steadfastly monitored what I was eating and exercised almost daily for close to two years… it took one single Big Mac to start the “blossoming” all over again.
As of today, I am well over 300 pounds and I dare not actually stand on a scale to see exactly how far over 300 I am but it’s safe to say… still under 400… and that has to count for something.
And after an extended bout of inexplicable malaise this year it is also safe to say that, I’ve finally got my second wind. I see the mistakes I’ve made, it’s been a long time coming; it’s time to get some structure back to that part of my life. Back to Weight Watchers, back to the gym, back to the vegetables. It’s going to be a long, hard, miserable road but the inspiration I have is remembering that immense sense of accomplishment having achieved a level of health that I never thought possible, as well the extra supplementary accouterments of being able to fit into a pair jeans from Target, being able to sit in an airplane and have the seat belt fit over my gut, having consistent anonymous sex with a penis that I can see without holding in my stomach.
It’s these experiences and so much more that I don’t think a lot of people truly understand. In order to be a group leader in Weight Watchers you have to have gone through the program, lost a certain amount of weight and kept it off. This way, you are sympathetic to the needs of the participants. One of the most awe-inspiring leaders I ever had, truly had a pulse on what we were going through. For better or for worse and in varying degrees and shades, we all had issues with food. And not an overblown Lifetime movie worthy food addiction where the smell of beef makes us shake, but we all did have this weird bottomless pit of a gut that never seemed to get full. I remember during one session she discussed how when she was heavier, she would have a full four course meal with her husband to the point where her stomach was bloated and she couldn’t breathe, and on the way home she would think to herself, “you know… I could use some ice cream.” We all burst into ecstatic laughter; I laughed so hard a tear rolled down my face. I got it. We all got it. We understood. We have all been there. And it was absolutely beautiful to admit it and to be around compatriots without guilt or shame. We were all linked, regardless of race, gender or class, by this “HUNGER” that we were all slowly realizing was intrinsic to only us.
The group leader very compassionately made us realize that “hunger” doesn’t make us bad people or even weak people, but a people that simply have to learn how to better manage it. Though we’re no better or worse than anybody, we are different, and that’s ok. We just got something we got to manage. Similar to a diabetic who has to be aware of the sugar levels or even a parent who has to be aware of their child’s whereabouts, we have something that we have to manage, be cognizant of and care for. And unless you’re in that situation, you don’t truly understand. Our group leader never really gave us a label or clumped us under one identifier outside of people who need to manage their weight. She did, however, label people who do not have a weight problem as “civilians” which again… I laugh-cried when I heard. I think that’s apropos; civilians, the innocents safely tucked far away from the absolutely horrendous war raging on.
It’s definitely something that I keep in mind when I hear people say derogatory things about the heavyset, the zaftig… the fat. They’re civilians… they have no idea. When I was at my heaviest and had developed a mighty buffalo hump as well as diaper rash on the back of my neck, my brother, the ultimate civilian said, “Man, if I ever got that big, I would just eat chicken and rice man. Yup, just chicken and rice until it all came off.” When I asked him how long he thought it would take of chicken and rice eating to slim down, his response was, “about a month maybe.” A month. To lose over 200 pounds. A month… of eating nothing but chicken and rice. This… is civilian thinking. As well as a friend who mentioned that he was dating a guy who, though wasn’t fat, looked as if he was the fattest person in his family (So on your journey of weight loss not only should you lose weight you need lose any genetic connection to the fatness in your history). As well as another friend who wanted to go to a Bear Bar because he figured that his sleek and slender figure would incur the lust and jealousy of all the lowly overweight people in the bar. As well as some jackass trainer who posted some pretty disgusting and ignorant videos on YouTube complaining about the overweight people that come into his gym and don’t look as good as he believes he does.
I remember back in those days when I was actually losing weight, another random piece of shit jokingly yelled at me from a city bus, “You need to lose some weight, fat ass!” At which point I uncharacteristically became timorous and began to whine inside my head in the most pathetically high pitched voice I could conjure up, “I just lost 60 pounds! I’m working on it!”
It’s something that I don’t think “civilians” get… the absolute endless struggle. That even while you’re working at it you still have naysayers throwing tons of negativity at you on top of the self-hate that you slide on top of it. That, even when you go to the gym, there is always some muscle bound cunt with an attitude there to belittle your efforts, mock you when you falter, expect you to join him when you succeed. I know there is a train of thought that is completely antithetical to what I believe, but my opinion is that there is a long-learned pattern of behavior that leads someone to become obese and becoming healthy isn’t simply a matter of opening up a window every time the stove begins to smoke; you got to fix the stove… and that takes time. And sometimes you fuck up, things get smoky again and you just got to go back in there with some better tools.
As I said earlier, I write this after eclipsing a particularly harrowing malaise. I’m feeling good, feeling strong. Getting back to me next week during a predictably arduous work day and you might find me at the drive-thru of some McBurger Wendy King In The Box. But as for right now, I’m feeling pretty strong. And I remember when I was even stronger when I was doing a little self-care and watching what I was eating and exercising. But this is me; I can only speak for myself. I personally know of people who are 300, 400 even 500 pounds and are happy and loved and thriving. All I can tell you is that when I was scraping 400 pounds it created a whole separate and deeper malaise for me. But at the end of the day, I do believe the goal, whoever you are is just to be happy. And if you’re big guy or girl and you truly dig yourself, you are ahead of the game. As for me… well… I’ll be back at Atlanta Black Pride soon enough…
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