I was sitting on a couch at a Christmas Eve party when I looked down at my left arm. To my right, dear friends from my church were playing spoons. To my left, more dear friends from church were chatting away. But for a moment, I sat there totally alone, totally taken back to times before my arm looked this way.
What did I see? Definition, as my friend and one of my biggest cheerleaders, Katie, said. I’m still amazed that I can see the outline of bones and the green line of veins in my hands and arms. I’m amazed that I can wear clothes with sizes that don’t begin with “4” and end with “X”. For someone who was overweight for most of my life, this is a true sight to behold. To some degree, unless you were as heavy as I was, it might be hard to explain what a delight this for me.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Part of me sharing this story is to show others how I changed myself, which means being pretty darn real about it. I felt very much defined by my obesity, locked into who I was and how others viewed me. Secretly, I hated it. But, I refused to do anything about it. I swam in rivers of apathy and accepted my lot with thoughts like “it’s too late to change now” or “man, if only I had tried to lose weight before … ”
I saw numbers on the scale and knew they were bad news – I will forever remember weighing 378 pounds at the doctor’s office in 2013 – but didn’t find it within myself to change it.
Getting this machine moving took a true, guttural rejection of the person I had let myself become. Eventually, I realized this wasn’t preordained – I could change. Eventually all those numbers didn’t inspire apathy, but determination. Thanks to a doctor unafraid to be very real with me and a fear of becoming diabetic (if I hadn’t changed, I easily could be today) I started swimming in a different river.
I became obsessed and I found motivation everywhere, a constant Adam versus The World mindset that drove me to push harder in the gym and stand firmer on my nutrition. I didn’t just say no to that cookie – I rejected it and took it personally you’d even offer it. I didn’t just train, I wanted to train in such a way that others were blown away by it.
Don’t get me wrong – that’s pretty intense and looking back, kinda funny. But for me, I had to be that way. I had to be 100 percent or I’d fail, and so on I went, as fanatical as I could be, conjuring up ghosts to cut down and challenges to conquer in my head.
There are times that I feel so unmotivated to do anything – wake up, function, whatever – that I look back at the Adam who decided to get started and I’m almost humiliated. That dude looked up at a massive task and decided to take the first step.
I miss him.
The problem with trying to lose such an enormous amount of weight – other than the obvious problem, I mean – is there are so many nice plateaus where you’ll feel this urge to slow down and bask in your glory. “Well, lookie there – I’ve lost 70 pounds! Wow. I should celebrate.” And you should, because losing any amount of weight is hard as heck. You should take a moment to recognize what you’ve done.
But it can only be a moment. I’m often guilty of wanting to think more of what I am doing than is warranted, even more so with fitness. I require a force next to me, pushing me forward, eyes open, scanning for the next challenge, the next hill to climb. Because otherwise, I’m liable to stop before the job is finished.
I’m not done yet. When the job will be done, I do not know, but I do know that the person I was is gone and he will not be returning.
The following night, Christmas, my fitness-loving cousin and I sat in the living room of my parents’ house and looked at our freaking veiny hands. Are we crazy? Probably, but I’ve found that’s just what it takes.