Middle (or mid-evil) school…
I have been overweight for most of my life. I vividly remember a time when I was not, however. That time was long ago, in elementary school. I’m not totally sure what happened but in middle school I, as most middle school aged children do, went through quite an awkward phase. I was growing up vertically and horizontally at about the same pace. I was always been among the tallest in my class but once 6th grade hit, I started packing on the pounds.
This was not a good time in my life and I was very insecure about my weight. In 7th grade I played basketball for my school. We did our conditioning with the 8th grade team. One day during practice we were running suicides. I was wearing shiny green shorts and a lime green t-shirt (because I was in 7th grade with not-so-great style). Due to my weight and being out of shape, I was the last one to finish running. I was half way through the last suicide rep and the 8th grade coach yelled out, “Come on, Jolly Green Giant!”
It may not sound like that big of a deal to you but for an overweight 12-year old boy, that is pretty painful. Especially since it was in front of the whole 7th AND 8th grade teams. I continued to shut myself out from everybody and didn’t really have a lot of friends. I, of course, had friends at school because it’s pretty tough to go throughout the day without talking to people, but I didn’t hang out with anybody. I sat in my room at home and did homework, learned magic, and played my guitar. This lack of inactivity did not help my weight.
Turning point – a single decision can change your life
The following spring I decided to join the track team as a thrower. Because after all, what else is the fat kid supposed to do? However, this ended up with pretty much the same results. Turns out just because I was big did not mean that I was strong. I had yet another experience of humiliation by the coach, in front of all of the throwers. The coach, Mr. Such, was the head coach of the team. He had come over to the shot-put ring to help us with our technique (even though he didn’t have any real experience of his own – that I know of… that may be an incorrect statement). He had me pick up the shot and throw it. Having literally zero experience of throwing a shot-put, I failed miserably. The shot only went probably 6 feet. Mr. Such then told me, “Come on, that was a wussy shot!” He walked away disappointed. I was so upset that after he left I started cussing and complaining about it to everyone that was around me – even declaring that I was going to quit. I truly made a fool of myself.
Little did I know it but that moment changed my life. The other kids around me told me, “Don’t give up because he called you a wuss. Just get better and prove him wrong.” That sparked something in me. I started working out and getting stronger and better. I didn’t improve a whole lot that year, but I had a newfound inspiration – proving the coach wrong. That fall I played football as a defensive lineman. I was very afraid going into it but this really helped me realize that I would have to go through some sacrifices and pains if I wanted to improve.
I grew a little more, vertically, while maintaining roughly the same weight throughout high school. I wrestled at 215 lbs throughout high-school and played on the varsity football team both my junior and senior years. But my most proud accomplishment… is that I participated in the track and field team every year since 7th grade determined to prove Mr. Such wrong – and I did. In my senior year of high school I broke both the shot-put AND the discus records! My records were broken by another student just a few years later, but that doesn’t matter to me. At one point I was the best thrower to have ever went through my high school.
Adulting – give me that food!
Since then my improvement in health has stunted and I have become stagnant. My daughter, Mia was born in November of 2013, when I was 22 – two weeks before I graduated college. My wife, Nadia, my daughter, Mia, and I lived with my parents at that time. Shortly after graduating I was hired by Bankers Life and Casualty to become an insurance salesman, which is not a very fitting position for someone as shy as I am. Nadia was not working because Mia was an infant and because she had moved here from Peru less than a year before. Due to this fact, we weren’t making a lot of money.
Very soon after I got the job, we moved out of my parents’ house (March 2014). Since we didn’t have a lot of money, we truly only bought what was necessary and this forced me to not over eat so I remained in pretty decent shape. However, in November 2014 I got a new job that paid way better. We were able to move into a bigger and better apartment and also increase our grocery budget.
At my new job, once a month we celebrate the birthdays from that month, so, naturally, there is cake. Once a quarter there is a big sales meeting and someone brings in a huge bag of bagels from Panera. There is also a jar full of jelly beans at the front desk. During the holidays, customers send in giant gift baskets filled with tons of chocolates, cookies and other holiday goodies. Needless to say it was pretty easy to begin indulging in these wonderful treats! Yum!! I started giving in to the temptations of free food at work and the stress induced the whole stuff-my-face mentality. This clearly hasn’t paid off. I soon started gaining weight. A lot. And very quickly. In fact, I went from 225 lbs when I started in November 2014 to 287 lbs in December 2015. So in one year I gained 62 lbs.
Something has to change. And quickly.
Most of those who have gained a large amount of weight in a relatively short amount of time will agree with me here. Once you realize that you have gained so much weight, it starts to hurt. I began to feel bloated all of the time. I even became constipated – almost every day. Fatigue plagued me every day. After arriving home from work, around 5 o’clock, I realized that I was too tired to play with my 2-year-old daughter. That is what bothered me the most. At 25 years old, I was too tired to play with my daughter!
Soon after, a spiritual journey, which I will blog about later, led me to some serious dietary changes. For many reasons, I became a vegan, one year ago, on December 21, 2015. At first it was just a spiritual decision but as time went on, I started to lose weight and feeling way better. When I made the decision to be vegan I weighed 287 lbs. I created a meal plan taking into consideration my new dietary restrictions. By April 2016, 4 months later, I had lost 30 pounds! I was down to 257 lbs. I could breathe better, I had more energy to play with my daughter. Life had taken a turn in the right direction.
The log in my eye – let’s get it out
That was 8 months ago. Since then I have gained 9 lbs back – I’m now 266 lbs. And I am starting to feel bloated and constipated again and I am pretty sure why.
One of the things that I realized during my transition to veganism was that I am most likely lactose-intolerant. There were a few times that I accidentally consumed milk (whether in sauces or otherwise, I don’t remember) and by the time I had realized it, the dairy had already taken its toll on me. The following day is always a bear. I become bloated, constipated, and even get headaches.
Now throughout the past year I have become very passionate about veganism. And I have voiced this publicly, too. I have been in many arguments, in person and on social media about the various aspects of veganism – ethics, religion, health, environmentalism, etc. I remain passionate as every about these things but am now going to change my approach with others and even myself.
That being self, I need to really start following my own advice and stop being a hypocrite. On my first blog post, I mentioned some verses of scripture:
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
So now, I am going to declare something that is hopefully a big tug on the log in my own eye by admitting something:
I HAVE INTENTIONALLY EATEN CHEESE, MEAT, AND SOME OTHER DAIRY WITHIN THE PAST YEAR, WHILE CLAIMING TO BE VEGAN.
I am so ashamed of this. I am ashamed that I have done it, but also that I have been a hypocrite and liar by pretending that I was not doing it. I honestly haven’t done it a lot, but that does not matter. The fact is, that I did it. Like I said, I am a sinner.
So now that this is out in the open, I am re-dedicating myself to a couple things: 1) publicly to not preaching veganism (if anything I should be preaching Christianity, first); 2) the vegan lifestyle and 3) losing the weight that I gained by stuffing my face throughout the past couple years.
With this public re-dedication, I promise to myself, to God, and the rest of the world that I although I am human and make mistakes, I will NOT do so intentionally. This has been the problem: that I have been breaking my own rules, intentionally. No more!
I do this for the glory of God. I do this for my health. I do this for my family. I do this for you and everyone with whom you may share this post. I want so badly to improve my physical health and grow strong and fit. But this is only one part of my journey of personal growth. Physicality improves best when other aspects grow also, such as spirituality and mental strength and tranquility.
It gives me much peace to declare what I have declared today. It is my proof to you that I will be open and honest about everything and will not hide behind the giant log sticking out of my eye. Also, let’s work on getting that out.
Last December I also started working out at Planet Fitness. I was working out every day and frequently with my friend, Del Belcher. It was great to have a friend frequenting the same gym as a form of accountability.
We both soon started going to a new gym, owned and ran by a mutual friend from church. It was a more client-centered gym with tailored workouts and a trainer. This worked well and we improved together, with some friendly competition. It was really great. However, in April 2016, we were doing box jumps and I missed the box as I was landing. I hit my shin on the edge of the wooden box pretty hard. I was unable to walk for a few minutes. It was really bruised but after standing up, it started to bleed. I finished the workout but was in enough pain to have to postpone working out until I was fully recovered.
A month later, I had recovered to the point where I could continue working out. However, I had lost my momentum. Del had advanced quite a bit further than I and I was not feeling the workouts as much as previously.
This went on for a few months. In the early-fall my wife and I needed a new vehicle so that she could go to work and take my daughter to preschool without taking me to work first – we were spending a lot on gas. However, in order to get the car, we needed to eliminate some things. The gym happened to be one of those things. I was going to continue working out but at home. I was doing pretty simple workouts anyways. However, it never happened. I have not worked out in about 4 months. I am started to feel sore all the time because life is a workout now. This is another big reason for me to begin working out again.
Soooo what now?
What now? Now I am re-dedicating myself to my weight loss/get fit journey. I will take measurements, do some calculations and start a new diet plan. I will also start working out again. I will post an update in a few days with this information.
I am also going to join Planet Fitness again in January 2017 to continue working out at a low financial cost. More details on that to come!
Goodbye for now!
Thank you for reading! Next up (after health calculations), my journey with mental and behavioral health.
God bless and Merry (belated) Christmas!!