The majority of my adult life has been a struggle with my weight. I never cared to have the best physique, or be ridiculously strong, I never wanted to be skinny or brollic, or cut like an action figure. I just always wanted to be healthy. I do wish that I didn’t have love handles or hairy shoulders. I look like a Berenstain Bear, fam. It’s not a good look when putting on lotion or taking off band-aids. I’ve always embraced my size and used it to my advantage. Being able to pull off death stares at people who don’t know how to walk in the subway is one of the top joys in my life. Add a bald head, black skin, and a big beard; I’m a walking “HE FITS THE DESCRIPTION” stereotype.
I knew what the scale told me, and I knew what my appearance told me, but I never let it affect how I interacted with the world. I’m a big dude, and I’m fine with it. I definitely peeped how the scale would play me on the weekly by saying that I was gaining weight over the last eight years, but I kept eating my corned beef hash. I checked how my asthma started getting worse, but I kept eating four-egg omelettes. I caught how my clothes started looking young on me, but I Milly Rocked myself into some Mac and Cheese every two weeks. However, there were three distinct times in my life where I felt like maybe I shouldn’t be so big…
The day of my wedding remains the happiest day of my life. The day before my wedding remains one of the strongest doses of reality that I ever received. I picked up my rental suit and realized that instead of a vest (I’m an idiot for going with a three piece tux in June, BTW), I received what I can only refer to as a Wedding Bib. It was vest shaped in the front, but it was backless except for a neck strap that made it hang like a bib. Instead of getting dressed for my wedding, I felt like I was going to eat a plate of ribs.
Day 3 in the Gym
I decided to spice up my cardio on my third day in the gym by forgoing the familiar and safe stationary bike, and decided to try the eliptical. After two minutes on level 4, I knew I was done. I felt disgusting and weak. I left the gym and almost quit that day.
Damn Near Died in my Sleep
Sometime in 2014, I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air. I legitimately stopped breathing. My wife panicked, but was able to calm me down until I resumed normal breathing. This would happen at least three more times, each time my wife becoming less panicked. Her panicking less meant that she was getting used to this. Gasping for air in the middle of the night because I was too fat to breathe properly was starting to become a NORMAL thing! That scared me the most.
I ended up doing a sleep study and found out that I had moderate sleep apnea. I usually snore like a wildebeast, but my weight was literally crushing my lungs, especially if I laid on my back. I was prescribed a CPAP machine and my new normal was going to sleep with a freaking Darth Vader mask on my face.
I REFUSED TO ACCEPT THAT
I decided that enough was enough, and it was time of a change! I was not finna die in my sleep. I was not gonna be one of those dads who can’t keep up with his kids. I was not going to leave my wife an early widow. I was definitely not going to have my mother cry over my casket. The beginning of my fitness journey wasn’t about appearance, or vanity, or because I saw other people doing it. It was literally Life or Death.
I don’t remember the exact date that I stepped into Crunch Gym – Norwood for the first time. I didn’t have a clear cut plan to my fitness goals. I didn’t have a diet. I didn’t have anything except the will to live. Using my basic knowledge of weight training from high school, I started a simple regimen of picking things up and putting them down. I set little goals for myself and gave myself a pat on the back when I hit them.
My wife, Tai, has been my biggest fan. I cannot say that I would be able to write this blog post today if it weren’t for her contributions to #WiggzFit. She helped steer me toward a clean-ish diet. She kept encouraging any little gains that I had, and even on days where I didn’t lose, her mantra of “well, at least you didn’t gain weight” was the motivation that I needed to keep moving. She’s been a FitBit user for years, and she bought me my first one about a month into my journey. This thing has changed my life. That competition with yourself to hit ten-thousand steps daily is so real. She also encouraged me to join MyFitnessPal, something that I rejected hard and fast. The last thing that I wanted to do was be accountable for my diet. I wanted to eat whatever I wanted AND lose weight, which is asinine. I joined after I put up a fuss, and I don’t regret it for a second.
Straight up, MyFitnessPal helped me realize that I was eating garbage. I used to down a full can of corned beef hash every morning! I used to make salads with way too much ranch dressing. I used to eat grits loaded with cheese and salt (sugar in grits is savage. End Debate). I rarely paid any mind to sodium or sugar content, and just went for broke. When my weight loss started to stall, I realized that my diet was the problem. Logging my food into MyFitnessPal keeps me honest and accountable. It also syncs with Fitbit, so that’s pretty dope.
With my new motivating tools, I was able to lose 70 pounds in a year. I haven’t taken many progress pics (I’m just not into selfies too much), so when I look back at my older pics, the results are pretty dramatic. The important thing is that I’m much healthier now than I have been in years! In places where I used to take the train or the bus a short distance, I walk. Hills in my hood where I used to struggle walking up, I do it with ease. I take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. I’ve gone from a 4x shirt to a 2x. I’ve gone down from a size 50 waist to a 42.
If this were the year 2000, my oversized clothes would look right on me. Now, I can’t even believe that the clothes that I put on now used to actually be tight on me. Most importantly, I haven’t had those gasping near-death fits in ages. I don’t snore as badly as I used to. I went back to the pulmonary doctor and told them to turn their CPAP machine sideways and shove it up their asses… I didn’t, but I no longer have a need for it.
I’ve busted my ass for my health, and I’m not done. I’ve taken breaks here and there due to life and laziness. I don’t eat as clean as I could, but there are things that I definitely have changed with my diet. I haven’t had corned beef hash in months, and after looking at the label and seeing its terrible nutrition, I don’t miss it. I don’t mess with High Fructose Corn Syrup. There’s simply better ways to sweeten food. I’ll still fry up some chicken and make a Mac and Cheese here and there. I’m not perfect, but I’m proud of where I am and where I’m going.
People are always asking for tips and tricks. I’m ya boy, I’ll definitely have that post coming up pretty soon. The most important thing is to make it your journey yours! Don’t follow someone else’s path. Their goals may not line up with yours, and everyone’s body is different. Ultimately, your fitness journey should help your overall well being. My journey has very little to do with body image, and I think that’s why I’ve been successful at it so far. I took my fitness journey as my responsibility to my family to remain on this earth as long as I possibly can. It’s totally possible. You just have to take it one step at a time.