Hi, I’m Tony, and I’m a big dude. I’ve been fat most of my life – probably from 4th grade forward. It has definitely defined who I am, in the sense that it honed my sense of humor and sarcasm and I use those as a defense mechanism when I’m in the wild, so in a sense, I’m thankful for that. So +1 to fatness for making me funny.
I can do without the asthmatic wheezing, tiredness, not-fitting-int0-clothes(ness), and all the other things that being fat does. I’d gladly trade those in for a sense of rhythm or not-being-colorblind, but that’s not how this works so here I am.
I’m 33 years old today (technically I was 33 in March, but I’m still 33 at the time of this writing) and I can’t think of a better time to lose the rest of this fat, once and for all. I have 2 kids and a fiance whom I’m marrying in the fall. These are three great reasons to lose weight – I want to be here for a long time, for them. I want to be there for them, to be their shoulder to cry on, make fun of their music as they grow up, and for them to know that their dad always has their back.
These aren’t the main reasons I’m going to do this, though.
I’ve already lost 200+ pounds. I add that “+” in there because after I dropped 200 and got down to around 250, I’ve gained and lost the same 20-30 pounds so many times that I expect to win a yo-yo championship. Any day now, gonna get that trophy.
My prior success isn’t the reason I’m doing this, though.
I’ve been fat my whole life and have no idea what I look like as a thin adult, or even a healthy-weighted adult. I want to chase my kids and not get winded. I want to be comfortable sitting in chairs at the theater (on the rare occasion that I, as a parent, get to see the inside of a theater). I want to get a handle on my binge-eating, and have a healthy relationship with food.
These still aren’t the main reasons I’m going to lose this weight for good and all, though.
I’m losing this weight because I’m so goddamned tired of living the same week/month/year over and over again. Am I cursed? Did I kick a witch in a former life and now I’m cursed to relive the same day over and over again? I mean, I guess maybe, but I’m going to approach this from a different viewpoint.
Hi! I’m Bill Murray From Groundhog Day!
It’s not a curse, though it feels like one. My stream-of-consciousness reflection that I am presenting here may be useful to you, as this feeling is broadly applicable to just about any self-fulfilling prophecy about failure you could have, be it weight loss, romance, starting a crab farm, whatever.
Essentially, I recognize (at 33) that my problems are mostly my fault. I have a cool family, a big, dumb dog who loves me, a house, a good job, talents, bo-staff skills, a big yard for my garden, books, etc. I am a white male in a patriarchal, white-centric society. I grew up in a good Italian family, had the best grandparents in the world, went to private school my whole life.
So why am I fat? Why am I spinning my wheels at my writing career? Why do I half-ass everything that I do? Why do I have “problems”?
Because I make stupid, id-centric decisions. Just all the time, it’s awful. By id-centric, I mean I tend towards bad impulse control. As I mentioned above, I binge-eat. I sit for long spells, drinking and watching bad television. I play video games. And I also love writing out goals in a notebook. I have a lot of goals, and I’ve HAD a lot of goals for a long time. I’m a procrastinator and we LOVE to plan, because it doesn’t take anything but imagination to plan, and the one thing it doesn’t take ANY of, is actually doing anything.
I look back into my old notebooks and I see all these grand plans to write, to start this website, to lose weight. I look back 1, 2, 5 years and see over and over again the grand goals and the ferocious, terrible crashes that resulted from my non-application of willpower.
So no more. And I don’t mean “flowery-text-on-an-Instagram-platitude” done, I mean for real, 100% time-to-go done. How am I approaching this lofty goal of “done”? By dropping the “ne”.
What separates procrastination from domination is a D and an O (there are other letters, too, but they don’t fit with what I’m trying to do here, so please just humor me). I’ve had these goals for years and the one thing that keeps me from achieving them is that I never really DO them. It’s not easy, but it is simple. I plan, I write stuff down, I make lists, but I don’t actualize them.
For instance, I found an old notebook from like 10 years ago at my mom’s house. In it, one of my goals for that year was to “lose weight”. I scoffed at that, because what does that even mean? I could have lost a limb and been able to scratch that goal off. I never got past the goal-creating portion of success, and that’s a huge problem. Failure to launch.
I did a little research on successful goal completion, and my notebook is a lot cleaner. It goes Goal -> Deadline -> Goal broken down into actionable bits -> weekly recap. If you’re trying to succeed at something, the first step is to just actually do it, and that’s way easier if you have a plan.
So now I have a goal, and I have a plan to reach that goal, broken down into little, do-able pieces that I can accomplish and cross off, one after another. This also feeds your ego, because it gives you a concrete sense of accomplishment, and as a gamer, I thrive on small, incremental victories or achievements. So now what? What’s the next barrier?
Stop Making Dumb Choices
My goal is fat loss, and how do you do that? Keep your sugars low, your calories at a deficit, throw in some exercise. Again, it might not be easy, but it is simple. Why then haven’t I lost the last 76 pounds (I’m currently sitting at 276) sitting between me and my goal weight?
Because I make dumb choices. I choose to stay up late cursing at my computer in little, losing-at-Hearthstone based increments, or watching Rick and Morty. This causes me to get up late, which causes me to not exercise or plan my day. I get to work, get derailed easily because I’m sleepy, I don’t have the willpower to avoid bad food that I would had I worked out or gotten sleep, so I eat garbage, come home and binge. Then I go to bed disgusted with myself. I recognize this pattern and that breaking it will require willpower but also some planning. Being aware of your overall goal, and stopping to think how each individual bad choice can cascade into a bucketful of botched plans is the first step in undoing those patterns of bad choices. Just like how a butterfly flaps its wings in Japan and so I eat a box of Pop-tarts here in America (nature is wonderful and complex), so to does every action affect the next, even if they’re seemingly mundane.
Finding where that stupid butterfly is metaphorically in my daily life and stopping him from flapping his wings is crucial to breaking the patterns and habits that keep me from achieving my goal.
Finding these notebooks shows me that I had planned, I had written my goals down, but I clearly never went back and reevaluated them. I have a compulsion to buy a new notebook when I’m gearing up to PLAN; a clean, fresh start. That’s why I have so many. If I had set a goal, set a process, and then set a date to go back and see how I was coming along, my failures would be much more acute and a lot harder to swallow.
So that’s what I’m doing now. I’m using the quarter-system for my goals, something I learned from this FANTASTIC book, and I’m reevaluating progress on a weekly basis. Knowing you have 3 months to accomplish goals rather than a full year makes them much more pressing, and the need for a clear plan MUCH more important.
Honestly the most important thing is to be aware of yourself and your goals. Losing yourself in comfort, food, leisure – this is a low level of living, one that I’ve been in for 15 years. This is a picture of a notebook my fiance bought me for our anniversary. It represents my new relationship with notebooks – goals, planning, actionable bits, reevaluation, and at the back of the book: success.