Friday, November 15, 2013 Y 2:55 AM
Mainly I am writing this out of response to a basic idea that seems to be floating around not only in the news but also through our American government, our memes and honestly now the world. While the idea of course is not new, considering the fact that we live in 2013 and I have not heard this discussed on the news through this light – I feel like I should be the one to do it. I just want to write as a caveat that I have a very specific way of writing, which is conversational and will omit many commas, etc. Mainly because how I write is very free form I am adding this here now because many people will aim at discrediting my point or message due to grammar or whatever.
Fat people are not the only unhealthy people on this planet. In fact I would counter that idea by saying that in fact many people who are overweight may or may not be healthier than a slim person. Is this true for many, no, and is this true for the majority of obese people? No. But the discussion right now seems to weighing in on obesity as opposed to overall health. As if there is this idea that somehow someone losing all their excess weight will grant them a key to a healthier life/lifestyle. And this idea is not only prevalent in our American culture but also is running through Mexican news outlets, and even was spoken about through Italian radio a couple days ago.
So what does this mean? It means that we are fat-shaming. Fat-shaming means we are targeting one group of people and pushing the idea that these people are more or less walking tubs of illness and pushing the idea that these people and their lifestyles are costing us money, energy, and resources. While again, omitting the fact that a person who is slim may or may not be as unhealthy or even unhealthier. And the reason why I am writing this and discussing this is because I’m sick of hearing people speak about “getting healthier” when in reality this is code for “I’m going to exercise until I lose the amount of weight desired and that’s that”. True for all? No. But again, the minority in these matters is pretty much non-existent in our everyday discussions about health.
My story about how I went from a kid who was slim, then wasn’t and then eventually even managed to look the way I did (you can clearly see how unhealthy I was. Yes unhealthy, my skin color, my face and my body were bloated, not fat. Bloated with sickness.) Albeit, I did not know that at that specific moment in time – at least not entirely. I think many people would like to say that I ate a lot more than other people but honestly that is far from the truth and the reality here is in many ways one of those mysteries of life. Because I would sit a lunch and hang out with friends and look at how much more people ate and they managed not to gain any weight the way I did. I remember through high school I was averaging a weight gain of about 20 pounds for two years before I exercised one summer and then gained 20 pounds again my last year of school. And for a fact I know that many of my counterparts were not any different in their lifestyles than I (meaning they weren’t necessarily running after school or in sports. Some yes, but not all). So I ate pretty much just like any other person, if not less, but I still gained weight. One summer through my junior year I decided to “lose weight” and I did, 20 pounds, all of which came back because once I achieved my goal I stopped working out.
After High School I went to college and managed to stay around the same weight but I became very unhealthy. I was not eating regular meals, all my meals were meat-centered (to fill up because I honestly had little to no time to eat. Err, more like I didn’t make the time) I smoked, drank, had an awful sleeping schedule, and barely drank any water. I also managed not to eat any vegetable or fruit for the most part. And here is where things became interesting – I was starting to notice a significant change in the biology of my person. My mind was becoming weak, it was becoming hazy and I remember at some point through the end of my junior year in college that I was feeling very alone, emotional, to the point where I did not want to be with anyone. My body told me it just wanted to be home but I made myself go to things, and it was like that painting of the bar maid looking into the crowd. I was just staring at the people around me but I was not being able to connect, I was not able to feel like I was a person anymore. I felt like I was for lack of a better word, a ghost. I was someone who was just passing through the streets but not really feeling human anymore. I did not realize what I was going through at that moment but it was depression.
After college I came back home to work and managed to do a lot of things but what was happening to me outside of my success was dark. I was living a life where going to get McDonald’s in the middle of the night was routine. I was existing off of fast food, a lot of meat, and living with depression (of which I did not realize). I would wake up very late in the afternoon, sit all day on the computer working (yes, literally), literally not leaving the house whatsoever unless it was to go buy something to eat then I came back sat some more and did this for almost one two years. Yes, please note that I omitted my personal hygiene because it was more or less non-existent. I was living on the computer and living off of coke and meat and fries. I would wake up with a tingle in my arms and a stomach that was hard, yes stomach, not “belly”. I would have the most awful breath but the odor was not coming from my mouth. It was in my stomach as if something was rotting in there. The days would pass me by and suddenly nothing or no one made me feel anything. I was just melancholy. I had no emotion, I was a mope.
Everything changed towards the end of 2011 when I knew that whatever I was living with was too much to handle anymore. I would just cry for no reason sometimes. Or at least feel this overwhelming feeling of the inevitability of death looming over me. It was becoming this obsession in my mind. I was counting the time, counting the days. This was the time when I was releasing my first album and all I could see was haze. Nothing was pulling me out and no one knew what was going on until after I realized that I had sunk into the lowest hole that I could, after my brother’s 18th birthday. By this point I was barely even able to stay awake. The party was going on and all my thoughts were centered not on the party but on the fact that one-day it would end. The night ended and I sat on the computer and began to have this weight on me, this emotion that I could not control and the pain was unbearable I contemplated ending it. I called the suicide hotline and they tried to ease my pain. Told me to go to bed and I did and the day after I knew it was too much and that I needed to know what I had. I needed to know what exactly I was going through.
Of course being one of many uninsured Americans I did not have the luxury of being able to go to a doctor. So I googled it. I began to realize and understand that I was living with depression for almost over 3 years. And from there I began to realize that what I was going through was not the “normal” human condition. It was my body becoming more and more unbalanced as I allowed the years to progress. While I did manage to be somewhat active via work and what not, the reality is that I was forcing myself at those points to be human for my own sake. This is an ability of which not many people living with this condition even have, and I want to note that this is my experience and I in no way wish to speak about anyone else’s experience nor am I saying this is the only way or that this is the sure fire way to get out of this.
So naturally what I did was call my dad and ask him if he was sad all the time and I confessed to him that I was living with depression and that I wanted to start going to the gym. Two people from my graduating class had committed suicide from the pills they were given and so I made an agreement with myself: I was going to try holistically restoring my body as much as I could and if within one year I saw no progress I would be willing to go to the doctor and ask for medication. While I researched everything about depression I began to realize that many of the most basic human functions could cause a bodily misbalance. This means: not drinking enough water, not exercising, not eating properly, not getting enough sun, and not getting enough proper sleep. All things I did not do.
For me all these things happened at once, and very very very rapidly. So I decided to begin to workout and even through my workouts sometimes with my dad he would see I was literally and physically pushing myself to stay awake. I would be doing floor exercises and having my body tell me to just go to bed. My body would over think the thoughts of time passing in the shower. I would try to live and my mind would try to work against me but I knew I could not allow my mind to get the better of me and so I worked my body out to the max. My diet changed, I began to eat a lot more vegetables and fruits and I also began to drink water regularly. Now I am not going to pretend like I had an overnight turnaround and actually it took I would say many months before I could say I had felt progress but it happened slowly but surely it happened. The thoughts stopped, the feeling of rotting left. My breath no longer reeked of oil and meat and I began to workout every single day but only by doing things that I loved like yoga, cardio and zumba. I began to understand that what happened to my body was due to living a lifestyle that was unsustainable and that luckily I managed to escape out of at a young age as opposed to what happens to too many people when they are in their 40’s. I was realizing that this thing that I was doing was not something I could stop after the feelings left and my body felt right again – I realized that this was a lifestyle change and something that I just naturally adopted. Yes, even if it was forced onto me as a means to cope with the illness that in many ways I gave to myself.
Since the end of 2011 I have not stopped working out and eating better – which means I still indulge in all the things I love but I realize that while I may eat those things I can not exist off those foods. I found a system where I began to realize that everything that went in was like a pill of sorts that overtime allowed my body to feel better. I remember that year only walking two miles and that increasing to 7 miles daily over this summer. I remember being unable to stay awake while working out to starting pilates! I remember what a klutz I was when I first started zumba but later on being called to the front of the class to co-teach. I remember being in the gym shower thinking about death and time and now just getting in and out because I have other things to do. And those are the things that I am more rewarded by than the amount of weight that I’ve lost. I love being able to be in yoga and having every week show how much more flexible I’ve become. I love being able to say that I can dance for a whole hour non-stop. I love being able to increase the amount of miles I walk and being able to also provide the exercise for my dogs. It was because of them that I realized how important exercise is. Because if you have a dog that is not having their physical requirements met they begin to exhibit signs of mental anguish, which is expressed through anxiety, which is shown in things like chewing, barking, and overall poor behavior. The dog is unable to cope with itself to the point where any energy they can exert tends to be through a negative action. This is also true for any animal in captivity. It does not take a scientist to see how an animal act in the wild (docile, happy and relaxed) vs one in captivity (stressed, anxious, and overall unhealthy). I realized I was not a machine but rather an animal. And one who has primordial needs that need to be taken care of regardless of this 21st century life that I am living. I have to make the time for myself to be able to take care of myself. And because I take care of myself I am no longer a burden nor am I in many ways a drag to be around. I can now help others by telling them my story. And so in many ways what I am saying is that the lifestyle that I once lead was not just mirrored in my life but is shown in many other’s and while we may not all exhibit the outcomes that I had, you don’t realize that how you are living and feeling or how what you carry around can be absolved by simply saying to yourself: “I matter enough to care for myself”. Because at the end of the day no one can make you push yourself on that treadmill, no one can make you eat an avocado and no one can make you drink more water – you have to do these things for yourself. And this is a point that is never discussed in weight loss because losing weight can be as unhealthy if not unhealthier if done incorrectly. Too many people starve themselves to become someone who they think they should be but in reality the goal should be for you to be able to live a life where walking a mile isn’t seen some grandiose obstacle. I never explicitly started this journey out of a desire to lose weight but I did and still am but only because this is the outcome of my actions because my body is saying “I don’t need this on me, I do not want it and it will go”. But if my body decides one day to never lose weight again and I am still “fatter” than another person so be it. But this is not something I can predict nor something that is my goal.
****a sidenote I want to mention that this life is not about omitting all the things you love, it is about embracing them in a new light!
This is why I think that if you begin your journey with the words “I want to lose weight” you should reassess what exactly your goals are and what you are aiming to achieve because the reality is: losing weight is the easy part but maintaining it or not gaining it back is the hard part. And once you do then what? Are you going to hate yourself until you lose it back? And what if you did lose the weight but smoke, drink and eat poorly – what is the real success? Life is too short to wake up everyday and hate yourself. But also being overweight can be a red flag that something is not right with yourself but also just because your weight is ideal does not mean you are any healthier than anyone else. We can all afford to go and workout for at least and hour (everyday) and eat more greens and drink more water.
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