I’m going to keep it real with you all: I have a problem. A serious problem.Do I call it a weight problem? Or, do I call it an eating problem/disorder? I don’t know. I’m sure there may be an appreciable difference between the terms, but in layman’s terms...
On the face of it, losing weight and/or practicing a healthy lifestyle seems obvious. Be mindful of what goes in your mouth. Work out regularly. Drink plenty of water. Easy peasy right? Well...as the saying goes, “It’s Easier Said Than Done.”I can’t seem to find the key to making a change. Many years ago, I set a goal weight -- 195 pounds. Despite setting this intention, I’ve hovered around 250-260 during this time, with my lowest weight being mid-240s. I stepped on the scale before a recent trip to France and tipped the scales at few decimal points over 272. For what it’s worth, the heaviest I’ve ever been was about 290.I’m not sure if people are aware that many men suffer from body image and body shaming issues. Guys are pretty tough on other guys. From boyhood on, we’re pretty quick to comment, teast, or flat-out embarrass someone for being fat. I've never liked being called Matt, and it didn't help that it rhymed with fat. The colloquial “Hey Big Man” can sting if you’re struggling with how you see yourself. There’s a scene in the movie
where Dwayne Johnson’s character looks at his reflection in a window. Despite being a physical specimen at the time, he still sees himself as a fat kid, primarily because his esteem and self-confidence took a beating for so many years.
My dad used to (I’m sure affectionately) called me Chub as a kid and once told me that I looked like I swallowed a bowling ball because I had a little pot belly. I don’t hold these things against him, but I must acknowledge, like the movie character, I realized these things made an impact on how I view myself and the attendant feelings/notions that I am unattractive or undesirable to others.Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried to focus on approaching the issue through taking up different forms of exercise. Bikram/Hot yoga. Cycling. Vinyasa Yoga. Swimming. Other than a pretty regular practice of Bikram for about 1 ½ years, I haven’t established, nor stuck with, any particular exercise routine. Am I lazy or just lacking motivation? The latter seems to befuddle me because everytime I look at myself in the mirror or see my reflection in a mirror I sigh, at best, or going into self-loathing and get downright depressed. One would think this feeling toward my body would motivate me to make a change.I tried online nutrition and exercise coaching a few years ago. I’ve worked with a great nutrition coach in the last year. While I’m very open to coaching, what’s hit me is this feeling that I’m smart enough to know this “stuff.” Right? I mean...I’m smart enough to know not to eat a bunch of junk food, sweets, soda, and excess carbs. So...why do those things keep showing up in my belly? How is it that I go shopping and bring home a nice array of green, leafy vegetables and “clean” food, but, at some point during the week, end up knocking down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, big ass bowls of air-popped popcorn, or a couple slices of cake from Safeway? Ugh!
What’s wrong with me?
A couple of years ago, Carla threw out the idea that I might consider counseling or maybe hypnotherapy. She felt that I may have some latent, emotional issues connecting to my eating that I need help tapping into so that I can make substantive and lasting progress. At the time, I kind of nodded and tacitly agreed..mainly to move on from the topic. I know anything that she suggests is done with love and nothing but the best intentions. I’ve never told her this, but I must admit that part of me was hurt because it felt like she was saying that I was incapable of making the necessary changes on my own. I was broken. All the feelings and fears of being unattractive and/or undesirable shot right back to the surface. It’s been a while since the suggestion of seeing a therapist was raised, and I’m much more open to the idea. I looked back through old pictures when Carla and I first met. I wasn’t the leanest person in the world then and she fell in love with me, so I know her feelings are purely about me finding self-worth, self-love, and being healthy so we can enjoy many years together.Even with that emotional comfort, I still haven’t found peace, acceptance, let alone love, for my body. I have same-age friends who look great, work out regularly, and eat well without, seemingly, doing a bunch of dieting or culinary gymnastics. Sometimes I have to temper my envy when around them, and occasionally find myself going into snarky/asshat mode when around them because I feel so bad about the disparity between their physique and mine. Beyond friends, I was in Vietnam earlier this year and a young boy in a school we visited repeatedly said "You have a big belly!" and held his hands out around his belly and laughed at me. Other kids laughed, too. I know a snotty kid shouldn't get to me, but -- truth be told -- it broke me down inside. Crazy, I know.I am not writing this in the hopes of receiving “We love you just as you are” emotional comfort -- though it’s welcome. Mainly, my reason for posting this piece is to openly declare that I have a problem and I need help. I just turned 52, and I do not want to reach 53 and still be in the same place physically or emotionally. It’s a baggage that is becoming increasingly heavy to carry and I need to put it down, or work in the direction, for fear that I will simply give in, get the “Fuck Its” and just become what I fear. A fat, unhealthy mess.So, there it is. Unvarnished. Raw and real. I am open to reading your suggestions, recommendations, and questions in the comments. If you struggle with this issue, I would love to hear how you cope. Have you made an effort to address the issue and your feelings? What's worked and what hasn't?