Monday, January 23, 2012
The Weight is over: A Fat Man's Journey to Get Thinby Erik W. Chase on Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 3:49pm--------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Weight Is Over: A Fat Man's Journey to Get ThinHave you ever wondered what causes a person to be the way that they are? What makes them tick? How do they look the way that they do? It’s just one big social popularity contest and all of the votes have been counted, and as always you didn’t win. At least that’s my story, or it was. You see, I wasn’t always a man struggling with an addiction to food, I was if you will, adopted into the business of eating too much. Genetically, I was a healthy baby boy, but socially, I would later discover that my life would spin out of control and food would become my drug of choice. Where did this behavior start? What caused me to go so far into the temptation of eating so much? How did snacking on occasion turn into a life of imprisonment without the possibility of parole? I will start from the beginning of where I think things went wrong. I will dive into the deepest part of the past, talk about the present, and my plans for my future. So take a deep breath, suck in that stomach because you are about to get an emotional workout as I tell you why I started this column The Weight is Over: A Fat Man's Journey to Get Thin. Four hundred and fifteen. Four hundred and fifteen pounds to be exact. Four hundred and fifteen blood curdling pounds, and the question arises how did I get to this point in my life? What in the world could have gone so wrong for me to be as big as I am? I don’t know. Honestly, I have spent the last few minutes scratching my head and wondering if this is what my life has come to. Wondering. . . If. . . I’m doomed to a life sentence of imprisonment within my own body. I’ve been captured by the enemy, and I can’t get away. Hopeless desperation and guilt leads me to another round of what seems to be the solution to all of my problems. What problems? Sure, everyone has problems. Or do they? It seems as though I’m the only one who is going through what I’m going through. “You don’t understand”. “Yeah, but you don’t know what it’s like to be me”. Was I born this way? Could I have been so blinded and naïve to think that this lifestyle was going to get me places. Trapped, ensnared, and wrestling with the idea to end it all. I’m calling for help and yet I feel like I’m in a padded room with no windows or doors. Am I crazy? I have to know, what went so terribly wrong to make me do this to myself? It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Eating and never being filled. I was empty inside, and the only thing that I thought would fill me was food. I would find that my eating was so out of control that I would hide food from others. I surely couldn’t let them see me like this. What would they think of me? As if they didn’t already know, I mean even though I couldn’t really see me, believe me others could. Sometimes other people saw me better than I could see myself. How could I have put myself in this situation? Four hundred and fifteen. . . Pounds. I’m so mad. Tell me that this is some kind of sick twisted nightmare. It’s not. This is what I’ve become. I have become a person full on the outside, and consumed by emptiness and bitterness on the inside. I know that if I don’t change, then I will die. Or have I died a long time ago, already? I would ask myself these questions over and over again trying to make sense of how an educated person would let himself get to a morbidly obese size. Then I realized, it was the symptom to my eating problems. I wasn’t always a person of self-doubt and insecurity, but I was then. I can still remember getting on that scale several years ago, and how it felt to be at a low point in my life. I wanted so bad to die, and little did I realize that I was already killing myself. I wanted more than anything for the pain to go away. While the food would soothe me from time to time, it did not heal the things that were affecting my life. Consequently, I would later adopt other habits of addiction as a way to imitate sustenance in my life. Before we dive deep into what makes a morbidly obese adult morbidly obese, we have to first go back to the origin of when the behaviors were established. We have to go back to the beginning of life. When did these bad eating behaviors rise up? What traumas caused the onset of this destructive behavior? What made a person become four hundred and fifteen pounds? These are some of the questions that I have been asking myself for years. I have found the answer to most, searching for clues to the others that haven’t been answered, and moving forward in order to create new chapters in my life. Obsession is one of the roots that we will be dealing with along with addiction, self-indulgence, and pride as we explore the remnants of my past. I hope to encourage others who are going through weight issues, and my story is everybody’s story. Have you ever had an addiction or obsession for something so bad that you would do whatever to get it? This book is for you! When we look at obesity on an epidemic scale, we can see that the symptoms that cause obesity are very similar (if not the same) with other forms of addiction. Remembering that overeating is a symptom of the problem, not the problem that caused me to be four hundred and fifteen pounds. So pull up your bootstraps, because it’s going to get deep and intimate as you follow a fat man’s journey to get thin. At 7:59 on August 7th, 1979, I was born. I weighed 7lbs 7oz, and this was probably the only time in my life that I was a healthy weight. So what happened? What led me down a path of eating and binging? You see, my parents were what you called emotional eaters. They would eat when things in life would bother or upset them. My mother was just barely out of her teens when she had me, and my dad was 17 years older than my mother. She was just becoming an adult, and my dad was approaching his fourties. When I was little, my dad got injured in a construction accident and was unable to work again due to his injury. Before his injury, he was chubby, but with all of the stresses of not working, he really started to pack on the pounds. Depression of being new parents and finding ways to make ends meet were a catalyst in my parents obsession with food. How was I to know that I would later follow in my parents footsteps? The truth is that as children we are conditioned to do as our parents say. Eating seconds or thirds became the complimentary and respectable thing to do in our house. Many a times we would get the whole “Starving children in Ethiopia” lecture if we didn’t eat up. It was hard to assimilate anything else to our lifestyles because dinners and meals were usually in front of a television.At three years old, it was time to say goodbye to my dad. My parents had gotten a divorce, and I was left to fend for myself. My brother had learning disabilities and even though he was the oldest, I assumed that responsibility. I wanted more than anything to be bigger and better than anyone else. Well, I got the bigger down for sure, but “better” . . . not always. It’s like being stuck in two completely different worlds. I was always different then the rest of my family, and often times with my vivid imagination thought that I might have been switched at birth. Realizing that that was not the case, I had to find a way to belong. I missed my dad, and how come my parents couldn’t make it work? What was it that I did so wrong to make him want to leave? I never got over that day, and even though I was only three, it stained the very fabric of who I would soon become.I’m five years old, and it’s my first day of school. At this point in my life, I’m shy, introverted, and all together was not very social. Creative agendas and imaginations would fill my head to keep me company through a very lonely time in my life. I would only see my dad during certain times of the year, and it was always uncomfortable. My parents were incompatible of getting along, and the constant bashing of one parent to other took its toll on my brother and I. Even at a young age, I came to resent my brother because he was in special need of everything. Having learning disabilities, so much time was taken away from me in order to help him. My mother was constantly moving us from one school to another to find a school that would cater to his specific learning needs. As children, we don’t understand why one sibling would get more attention than the other. We want the attention. . . Too! Of course, when that was not displayed, I would find other methods of getting the attention that I needed. I would draw, paint, or come up with names for my imaginary friends. All the while, I was hurting as a child. A hurt that would cut deeper and deeper as the years would move forward. You can’t put a band-aid on things pressing your life and expect everything to be O.K. Well, what did I know? I was just a child, and a child should always be swaddled in the arms of their unconditional loving parents, right? Who knows for sure, but little by little this would be the beginning of my food addiction!I think that relationships play a big part on the stage of success. Surround yourself with positive people; you can be anything that you dream or desire. Surround yourself with negative people; your world gets turned upside down, you spin out of control, and you spend most of your life wishing that you can just get off of the terrible rollercoaster of emotions that your on. Why do we care so much about relationships, anyway? Relationships define who we are, or who we think we want to be. I’m not sure how being around athletes makes you a jock, or trying out for the drama team makes you an actor. . . But. . . It in some strange way does. We believe that social acceptance is the only true measurable form of character definition. The fallacy, of course, is that we begin to live our lives for other people. When do we live for ourselves? I didn’t grow up thinking that I was going to be overweight, but I did embrace the lifestyle of bad eating habits. My self worth was measured by the acceptance of others. I ate to hide issues that were affecting me, and for that I ultimately paid the price. I surrounded myself with negative influence whether by choice or circumstance, there I was in the midst of destructive behaviors. I believe that we all start off with a high level of self worth in the beginning. The stocks that bond us to greatness are often depleted by outside interference. Environment, generational, and social forces play in this game of life that can steal away the funds from our self worth bank account. Pretty soon, we are writing blank checks on the pretense that we desire to be someone that we are not. The consequence is that we fall, and whn we fall we fall hard. As everyone know, adolescence brings about a sense of awkwardness unparallel to anything that one could imagine. This was certainly true for me. With hormones raging out of control, infatuations towards the opposite sex, dating, and all in all jocularity would surface in this young man’s life. Have you ever tried asking someone out when your pushing three hundred pounds in your teens? By this time, I was wearing big and tall clothes, and people were seeing me for all of the wrong reasons. So I did what anyone else would do to get the focus redirected. I started to make jokes about my weight as a way to “break the ice” so to speak with other individuals. I became popular by association. I was involved in student government, honor society, key club, and any other organization known to man just to fit in. It’s amazing to think that I was trying so hard to fit in with other people when I couldn’t even fit into my pants, the school desk, or even the many social experiments that I was trying to expose myself too. Did I really want to be socially accepted? I thought that I did, but how can I be socially accepted when I couldn’t even accept myself? I mean look at me. “Erik, take a good look at yourself.” “Do you see what you’ve become?” “Do you really think that people are going to accept you when you look like this?” Ouch, how hurtful those phrases still are. We often times condemn ourselves. We become the critic at the Oscars, and if it were up to us someone else would always get the academy award. Why do we do this to ourselves? Self-depricate? We are constantly using ourselves as an emotional toilet! It’s that kind of stinking thinking that really truly stinks. What I’ve learned is that we have to know who we are, and when we don’t all hell breaks loose. Why was so important to be liked by others? Why wasn’t I good enough? That brings me to the next point, we are consistently being compared to others. If one person can jump six feet in a high jump, you should be able to jump six feet one inch. If we can just learn to compare ourselves to ourselves and learn how to self improve, wow what a concept. The results of success would be exponential, and maybe the onset of obesity and other addictive behaviors would not rear its ugly head up in our lives. We’ve all heard the story of the ugly duckling who really is a swan. The ugly duckling doesn’t know it at the time, is made fun of by his peers, and ultimately has the last laugh because he becomes the beautiful swan. Who knew? He didn’t. Do you think that the story would have had a different middle if the ugly duckling knew what his ending would be? Maybe. Because in life, in those first five years, we are watching and absorbing all that there is to know. We become little sponges. I see this all too clearly now as I look at a toddler recite everything that a parent says or does. Have you ever played parrot? We do that, and if when we are learning we are interrupted by some type of interference, the signal of communication gets altered or lost. For example, throw one crab in a bucket and the crab will crawl out. What happens when you throw a second one in? The first crab will pull the second crab back down into the bucket. This repeats over and over and over again which ultimately results in neither crab getting out of the bucket. I’ve been in the bucket before where people get pulling me down. “You’re this and you’re that”. All the while it distorts our true perception of who we really are. I was that child who wanted to be so much more. What happened? I was told that I couldn’t be who I wanted to be. I was conditioned to get real. My young mother didn’t know the right things to say, she was just a child herself when she had me. My father wasn’t around much, and he took the “I’m not getting involved” approach to things. If I had dreams, they were pulled into that bucket along with the crabs, and where did that leave a five year old child? Depleted of resources, absorbing nothing but interference and noise. So where does food fall into the mix of things? It was the only thing that I was good at. . .when your dreams of innovation and creativity are crushed, you do what you’re told. So I ate what was on my plate, and when I was done I had second helpings. I was becoming stuffed with food and filled with emotion, and still I felt empty inside. Ok, so here we will use a food metaphor. Let’s say that me were making a pie. Let’s go on to say, it’s an apple pie. You pick the finest granny smith apples, make the pie crust just right, put the beautiful creation into the oven, and you wait anxiously for it to be ready. You can smell the aroma. You can vision having a nice big slice of the pie with a dollop of your favorite whipped topping. So the timer goes off, you rush to get it out of the oven trying not to burn yourself as you pull it out and set the pie on the stove, and you wait for the pie to cool down a bit. So far, so good, right? The time has come, you get ready to take a bite of your delicious pie, but before you do you look to see what the other people are thinking about that delicious pie of yours. They’re not saying anything. “What’s wrong?”, you ask. “Oh nothing”, they say. “Oh nothing, what do they mean, what could they possibly mean by oh nothing”, you think to yourself. You begin to analyze their expressions and their comments, and little by little you start to get annoyed. So they ask “what’s wrong”, and you say “Oh nothing”. So what happened in this illustration is that we do that to ourselves all of the time. The pie was executed well, but we were not satisfied with the results. We took something that had every intention of being so tasty, and we made it taste sour with our own self-doubt. There was nothing wrong with the pie, and in many cases if not all there’s nothing wrong with you either. We have to learn to stop listening to what other people think about us, and learn to be satisfied with a job well done. If we overcook a pie, we burn it. If we over think what is said about us or done to us, we become emotionally paralyzed. I was that pie that was being overcooked. That might explain why I’m a little round along the edges. Anybody want pie?I think it is important to realize that our outside starts to look like our inside. Now if we do the right things in life, we should have a pretty exterior. Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and keeping away from high levels of stress, are just some of the ways that we do this. What if, you start staying up late? Exercising very little? Eating not enough or too much? Smoking? Drinking? Well, I think we can pretty much conclude that the outside will start looking like your inside. Fatigue, wrinkles, a few extra pounds around the middle, hypertension, diabetes, and possibly premature death. What about your personality? Most, if not all, overweight people are told by ignorant people that they have a “pretty face” and a “good personality”. So what makes us the friend, and not the boyfriend or girlfriend? Personality. Although, when your outside appearance doesn’t reflect what your inside appearance is, then, aren’t we the ones who are selling ourselves short? Yes, absolutely one hundred percent yes! Why can’t we look like we feel? Just another stigma that is associated with being overweight. We are judged first by the way we look, then by our personality. Kind of like the ugly duckling, right? Well, we all remember how that story ends, happy. The duckling was a swan because he believed that he was something special despite what others said about him. Now it took some convincing from some supportive friends first, but he got there. All this to say is “Don’t look at the wrapping of the present until you open it up and see what the gift is inside.” After all, we all start off ugly anyway!! Thank God for swans! My goal is to change the way people think about food. . .it took me a long time to come to the realization that I am okay. . .just those words "okay" will sustain me. No mater what life brings, we are designed and equipped to handle it, I guess that's why I deal with disappointment in a totally different way now, I workout instead of eating out!!
Posted by erik chase at 9:13 PM