August 19 2016 – A cafe in a hypermarket. (Posted from my phone)
I started smoking when I was 12. Why? Rebellion, to put it simply. But there’s a reason I never shared with anyone and I would like to let go of it. Weight loss. I tried to lose weight by smoking.
Back in 2000, my oldest brother was in the UK studying something. When he came back that summer, he’d lost so much weight. He seemed happy. He was more active. He would go to the gym everyday. He beemed with confidence and joy. Wow. I wanted to study abroad just so I could cycle everywhere and lose weight.
But he also picked up smoking. I’d heard that smoking suppresses the appetite. This image coupled with that assumption pushed me to smoking. (But I learned how wrong I was very soon)
Fast forward to 2006/2007. I’m 17 going on 18. I’m in the UK. I had no clue what I’m supposed to be doing in my life – I didn’t even wonder what I’m supposed to do with my life. I just did. “Friends” we’re everything to me. Did I have any issues with my body image? I don’t think so. I was a clown – I hid my insecurities behind being funny and laughter. Hell, I still nickname myself FatBoy89. (It was Dr. FatBoy89 until I dropped out of Med school)
I tried losing weight a couple of times in high school. By tried I mean reduced my KFC intake. For only 2 days. I also tried going to a gym, but found it very boring to just walk in a treadmill or repeat things over and over.
So, early 2007, I joined the shittiest gym on earth. It was so small there was only one bench in the entire gym, and the entire gym couldn’t even fit that bench. The weights were rusty. The floor was so uneven, balancing that bench is an exercise on its own.
7 months later, I managed to lose 20kgs(~44lbs). I went from hiding my body in an XXL shirt to a fitting M. I was ecstatic. How did you lose your weight? Wow, you lost weight. The acknowledgment was the best part. I was no longer “fat”, but I kept my FatBoy89 persona. For a while. Until my body image took over my life.
My diet? Subway. I didn’t understand the importance of diet. I didn’t know anything about protein. I used bodybuilding.com as my Bible. Fast-forward to 2012, I reached a level I never thought I could reach. I was at my fittest shape, 76kgs (~168lbs) with less than 13% body fat. I was so flexible I could blow myself if I wanted. I taught Tabata classes and Yoga. I did 1-hand push-ups to show off. But my low self-esteem and insecurities won.
Now? I’m 110kgs (~243lbs) with more than 35% body fat. I can’t do regular push-ups. Blow myself? I can’t even get up from the sofa without making weird noises.
What’s the point of the above story? A reminder that weight loss is easy – reducing the number on the scale is fucking easy. The challenging bit is getting my ass off that slouching sofa of regret and shame, and using all my experience to craft an improved weight loss journey.