The Naked Truth

The layers of the old me are starting to strip off. Beneath that are the older versions of me. This feels like a geological dig. As I find the smaller me inside, I can dress it up and show off this newer body.

The Chronology of Obesity

Until I was five years old, I could not eat properly, so my weight was median to low. When my massive tonsils were removed, I could eat and I made up for lost time. I was overweight from age six until I was 19. Depressed over the rejection of a girl, I stopped eating and crash dieted. I went from 270 to 200 in three months, then 200 to 170 in the six months thereafter.  I hung in the 170-180 pound range for a few years. It started to creep back on: 200 lbs. by the time I was 28; 220 by my 30th, then I rocked up and over 300 lbs. by the time I was 35 years old. I got a job where I could walk to work in the mornings and did that to wind off 30 lbs., until they moved my shift back by an hour. My weight has hovered in the 295 to 315 lb. range for about eight years. My favourite old clothes were put into boxes. I had to buy the last pair of fat pants I could find and be grateful. In October, I changed all that. I started to exercise and eat better. I started to put my health in my own hands. By taking back my own fate, I turned the corner.

The Naked Truth

More than exercise, more than diet, the naked truth is that your desires, your goals and your practices have to align. Be fat and happy. Be thin and happy. Strive to lose weight and take joy in the process. For too long did I sit at a table and eat food that made me sick and I did it to fall into line and keep the peace: pasta, bread, dairy, fat and meat. I wanted very little of these and instead, they all became staples. I am not alone in this: I have seen friends who have to attend endless business lunches and mixers. They eat restaurant food. By and large, restaurant food takes good but it is not good for you. If they have a weight problem, the more business they do, the more their waistline expands. Likewise, long hours can eat into exercise. Other people’s schedules can take precedence over your own schedule. Stop. Stop surrendering the fate of your body to someone else. At over 300 lbs., I was in a life-and-death struggle with obesity. If I had cancer, no one would say, “Can you skip chemo to run the kids to soccer practice?” Look at the causes of death (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/ (worldwide)  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2014001/article/11896-eng.htm (Canada)). Obesity contributes to four of the 10 leading causes of death in both cases.  If you want to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, solving obesity is one way to live longer and live better. Still, people make deals around plates of pasta. Parents pack schedules to the point where a car in lieu of exercise is their reality.  Don’t do it. Don’t die a little at every plate.

Empower Yourself to Change

I have embarked on my goal with some plans in mind for my body. Do you ever see those home reno shows where they start with a dilapidated shack; and rejuvenate it? In October, I was housed in a shack. In the coming months, that shack is going to look more like a stylish bungalow.

I have a to-do list. What I want and how to achieve it. I have to encourage you to combine your wishes with a sound plan of action. Visualize executing the steps: climbing the hills; heaping salad on your plate in lieu of pasta. Make a montage in your head, then live that out and remember the realized montage.

My To-Do List

Let’s map my pathway using my body:

The Not So Naked Me - it's okay.

Lose over 90 pounds. I am past the 40 lb. mark. I have done a lot of walking. I have changed my diet. I drink no diet pop; and much less regular pop. I eat almost no pasta and very little bread. I have been losing the weight through diet and exercise. It’s not magic. Greens are better than whites and browns. Skip fried foods, pastas, starches and breads. Have more veggies. When you grocery shop, walk to the grocery store.
Build muscle tone. After some of the layers of fat get worked off of my body, I began strength training. My legs get over 20 km of walking per week, so I have focused on my arms and chest. When I get my weight down further, I will put attention to my midriff. When your muscles are in poor shape, they are in hibernation. Wake them up with strength training (eg. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/strength_train_fat_loss.htm). Cardio (walking, etc.) burns calories during the exercise. Strength training has a post-exercise effect where additional calories are burned as your muscles suck in resources to replace what was burned off during exercise. The more toned and hungrier the muscles, the better the use of calories.
Careful charity. Don’t let being a nice guy or a generous person rob you of your discretionary time. Before the Rebuild, people would hand me problems to work out. I would sit there and obsess to come up with the perfect solution. Why? Why do it? In my case, it was a combination of charity and ego. I wanted to solve big problems. If all things are impermanent, problems fit inside of the bucket of “all things.” Don’t be so eager to solve everyone else’s problems that you end up sacrificing your health and well being.
Control my body. Is there something you want to do your body? Do it.  These were things that I was waved off from when I actually surrendered some of my autonomy. I look back, amazed that I gave up some decision making processes that only concerned me and my body. I say now, “if it’s about my body, it’s beyond debate.” You have to be the spark for the joy you feel. You have to own the fate of your body. And, you have to feel empowered to do as you wish. Don’t let others make you do something. Don’t let others hold you back.
Vasectomy. I had this done a couple weeks back to take back my own fertility choices (http://shawn.dewolfe.bc.ca/blog/close-to-the-edit.html). It felt very empowering to make this decision and follow it through. I wish I had done it a couple years ago, but I was waved off.
Liposuction. After the Rebuild is complete, I am going the last mile by getting rid of some stubborn pockets of fat. I have lost this weight before, so I know what will persist after I am done. Rather than go crazy to banish a few bands of fat, I am spending my way out of that problem. It’s my body. I want it to look like I wish it to.

I plan to succumb to vanity. Maybe that sounds shallow, but I am putting some articles of vanity into my to-do list.

  • New Wardrobe. A few years ago, I was at West Edmonton Mall. I happened into a biker shop. They had all sorts of motorcycle paraphernalia. I was caught by the shirts. Some of them looked like the standard “Harley Davidson” stuff, but a few just had some really cool patterns on black. I was intrigued. I don’t ride a motorcycle and I have no plan of doing so. Still, I liked the shirts. I was about to start trying them on with the intent of buying a couple. My ex discovered me and couldn’t fathom why I was standing in a biker shop, let alone perusing their wares. I couldn’t make an argument in my defense, so I quietly walked out of the shop offering an “I was just looking” as we walked away and my new shirts were left hanging on the rack. I didn’t defend my position. It has taken me four years to learn this and then preach it: dress as you wish. Never ask for permission. When I nudge off a little more weight, I will go out clothes shopping. I will ask for opinions on my choices, but I will decide whether I buy something or put it back on the rack.
  • Waxing. As you can see in my picture, I am way hairier than I enjoy. When I entertained waxing, my ex would say, “I like it this way.” I did not. So: I am doing something about it. When I stop with that process, I will be less hairy and more happy.
  • Tattoos and piercings. I have two tattoos and I will not be getting any more. If you want a tattoo to celebrate yourself: do it. If you dress yourself up, maybe you’ll take yourself to nice places.

 
You have to live in your own skin. You have to suffer its pain more keenly than everyone else. You should be able to focus on it being the body you want it to be. Don’t be ashamed of it along the way. Just be resolute about what you do with your body. Align who you are, who you intend to be and how you plan to bridge that gap. Break down the steps it will take to get where you wish to go, then walk that path. The naked truth is that this is about you and what you want. Never make excuses about getting what you want.

  • Sue McCaskill

    Good for you, Mike! Best of luck on your journey; I know it will not be an easy one, but most rewarding when you reach your goal/s.

  • Thanks, Sue!

  • Gina Ross Coaching

    I am appreciating your vulnerability Shawn. (MIke?) It takes courage to show up the way you are. Kudos!