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Self Love

Several months ago – either before or shortly after I started my weight loss program – I was speaking with my girlfriend (now my wife) and I told her that I hated myself. I told her that when I looked in the mirror, when I put on a 3XL shirt that was tight or did not even fit, when I could hardly walk my dog three blocks without needing to lie down when we got home, I was completely disgusted by myself. This upset her, and she told me that I needed to work on loving myself. It was obviously a much deeper conversation than that, but if I were to ask her if that was an accurate synopsis of the conversation, she would accept that it was.

I started my weight loss program on January 20th. As I write this, it is 9:30pm on Sunday, October 23… two hundred and seventy-seven days later. I do not know for certain what I weighed that day because my bathroom scale is not accurate in that range, and the scale at my doctor’s office maxed out at 350lbs. I estimate I weighed 395lbs, and that is the number I am using for my progress benchmarks.

Today, ten months and three days into the program, I look back on a lot of successes, and a lot of failures. I have had weeks when I was nearly perfect on my program, but I have had a lot more cheat meals and cheat days than I care to admit. I know that had I stuck to the program religiously, I would be a lot slimmer today than I am. I also know that had I given up on the program, I would be back to where I was. I never want to be there again.

Leslie has done a tremendous job of encouraging me along the way. While she has told me that she would always love me (and I believe it), she also knows how important my weight loss is for me… and that if I did not (and do not continue to) lose weight, the long life we want to have together would be much shorter. When I write in my journal that I am having a bad time of the program, she asks if she needs to kick my ass. She is very encouraging of every new challenge, and every milestone I hit.

The question came to mind earlier this evening: Do I love myself yet? I suppose the better question would be: am I still disgusted by what I see?

Knowing all of my failures and cheats, let’s review my progress so far:

I could list many more improvements, but I think the most telling is a story that happened just two weeks ago. Leslie and I went out for Mexican food on the penultimate night of my latest trip to Dallas. When I came back to the table from the washroom, I told her that I looked in the mirror and saw a much slimmer man than I was expecting… I was used to seeing a morbidly obese man looking back at me. Now? I’m still fat, but I am looking better.

I still do not love my body. It is hard to explain, but despite how long it might take me to stop being fat, I suspect that psychologically it will take much longer to stop thinking that I am fat. I like myself better than I did ten months ago, but I have a long way to go before I love my body again… if I ever did. Long before I was actually fat, I was taught by my mother to hate my body. It did not matter that I played high school and college basketball; it did not matter that I served (with distinction) in the Army. I was taught that I needed to lose weight… which meant that I was fat.

The psychology of weight loss is complex. I do not know if I will ever look at myself and be happy with my body. There is so much discussion of how women have been taught to be ashamed of their bodies, but with men it is much less out in the open. I think that at a certain point, I am going to realize that I cannot do it alone, and I will need to speak with someone. Leslie is wonderful but I think that anyone with a history like mine would need professional guidance to feeling good about myself.

To be clear, I feel much better about myself today than I did a year ago, or even six months ago. Better is not Good. I need to learn to feel good about myself. When will that happen? I don’t know. It would be nice to fit into my Army uniform, but will that do it? I don’t know. I only know that I am on a journey, and it is a difficult one. I have come so far… but I have so far to go. That is not only around my waist, but in my head. I thank G-d daily that I have such a helpful partner. Now if only I could be a better me.

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