Friday, May 30, 2014

Losing weight: in retrospect...

A couple years ago, I lost a lot of weight. I lost about 65 pounds. I ate healthy, I worked out, and so far I have yet to fall into that trap where you end up as fat as you were before you started, or worse. I feel great, I can make eye contact in the mirror, and look down without shuddering, and I've found a few things out about losing weight that I hadn't realized before.

Hotties Really do Hit on You

I was at a bar getting some liquor and a lady started making all the classical indications that she wanted me. I mean, it was textbook, coquettish looks, flirtatious banter, explaining she wasn't really with the guy she was eating with, the works. I was stunned. Shocked. I had no clue what to do, and just started laughing at the absurdity of it all.

And she wasn't the only one. People flirt more with me than they did when I was obese, and it's not just the ladies. The number of hot gay dudes who friend me on FaceBook is huge now, and I am not any different than I used to be online, I just have less of me in the pics. Except my beard, which is awesome.

There's an argument made that people who lose weight get hit on more because they exude confidence, and that if you can fake that, it doesn't matter if you're obese. Bullshit. People really do hit on you more when you're thinner, and being funny or smart doesn't hurt when you're also fit and your morphology isn't grossly impacted by the stored energy you don't use. The closer you are to the societal standard of good looks, the more you get hit on.

And why that isn't mentioned, I have no idea. People use it for motivation a lot. "Get that bikini body" they say, but no one is talking about, "I lost 65 pounds and got hit on at the bar by a hot person I'd totally bang if I were into banging hotties I met at the bar." 

Or if they are I haven't noticed, or I ignored it because I thought it was a gimmick. It's not. 

That might sound great, but don't get too far ahead of yourself, because...

Your Shape Changes, but You're Still Marked

When you're obese and you lose weight and you get thin, you suddenly discover you've got stretchmarks. You may already know you have them, but they become a lot more prominent when you're thin. Maybe it's because I go outside without a shirt now, and get tan, and it rings them out or something. I dunno. 

I'm marked for life, though. I can spend the next 25 years being a normal body weight, and it won't matter to my skin. I'll always have some stretchmarks to remind me I used to be fat.

I'm ok with that. I look at them and just sort of shake my head, thinking, wow, I was huge! 

Was.

And that's ok. We get one life at a time, and we can do what we want with it. I ate a lot and moved hardly at all for a decade, and I have the wear and tear to show it. It really happened, I was that guy, and I'm different now, but that was me. That's how this shit works. You do stuff, and you get experience, and it shows, physically, mentally, emotionally. We grow, we shrink, we're different and we're marked for life by what we do. 

Works for me, because that works positively too, like when you realize 

The Number on the Scale was always Total Bullshit

So when I started losing weight, I was all about the number on the scale. I loved watching it go down, and I felt great doing the calculations for BMI and seeing it go down further and further. Eventually it plateaued, and I spent some months trying to find ways to jump start the weight loss thing again, and had various layers of successes and failures.

I had made it under the BMI level that said I was obese. I wasn't losing weight, and my body fat percentage wasn't going down. I went almost totally vegetarian, and was doing shit tons of cardio. I even considered giving up drinking. Twice.

Then I started working out for real, not just doing cardio to make the number go down. I started working on my actual body shape at the muscular level, changing my shape by performing a set of exercises to target specific muscle groups. I hit a point where I actually had to gain weight to get where I wanted to be. It took a couple of months to get to the point where I could give no shits what the scale says, except in passing. I go by how I look and what I can lift now, making changes to my routine after giving it 6 weeks to see how it works. At my lowest body weight, I was 165. I'm now hovering right around 180, and my body fat percentage is lower than it ever has been, and I like how I'm looking.

My focus shifted from how much I weighed to how I feel, and now the scale doesn't matter. Healthy people don't care what they weigh, they care how they feel. 

I feel great when I eat meals that are about 2/3 veggies, some protein, and some intermittent grains. I feel awesome when I move from a 35 pound dumbbell to a 40 pound dumbbell for my set. I love watching the stuff that hangs over my pants disappear, even though my jeans are tighter in the thighs because I can almost squat my body weight now. 

In other words, I was worried about the wrong shit the whole time, even though I was successfully losing weight. It wasn't about the weight, it was about how I feel. Which rocks because, then there's 

Wrinkles

Obese people aren't wrinkly. The fat stretches the skin leaving stretch marks when you lose the weight, but it also hides the wrinkles that come with age. They pop right out when you lose weight, and you see that hey, I don't erally look 18 without my goatee anymore... and probably haven't in 10 years. Sheesh!

Honestly, I don't mind. I like my wrinkles. When I was obese, my face was round, and smooth, and I looked younger than I was... because I looked like a giant toddler. Fuck that. I'll take wrinkles over that.

Almost No One Cares

When you lose a ton of weight, you feel great, and some people are all "Go you! woohoo!" but mostly, no one gives a shit. Obese people are supportive for the first ten pounds you lose, but when you start losing a lot more and worse, actually keeping it off, they quickly get defensive, and that's kind of surprising. 

And fit people are like, yeah yeah yeah, I've heard it all before, you're losing weight, you're proud of yourself, great, welcome to the club. Now... do you even lift?

And that's also great, because your weight shouldn't be a deal at all. The most important thing is that you enjoy your time in life. I've been obese, and now I'm fit, and I can tell you I am enjoying my life so much more now, and it was hard at first, but then it got better, and now I eat what I love and get high at the gym and am socially accepted and respected in ways I wasn't, and when I see myself naked, I can see I'm the kind of guy who can lose 65 pounds and become a weight lifter without being a jerk, and I look my age, and I feel wonderful.
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