By Kenneth Selke
As my weight-loss journey continues, there has been a constant disconnect between how my body has changed and how I think I appear. Having lived my entire life as an overweight guy, I’ve found it extremely difficult to change my mind-set, and to realize that I’m not as big as I think I am. When I shared this realization during my weekly Weight Watchers Meeting, I found out that I’m not the only person to experience this feeling, and not the only man to feel this way. Now, my meeting group consists mostly of women, but to hear from one of the guys in my group that he struggles with the same “self-awareness” issue, it made me feel a bit more confident that this program doesn’t care whether you’re male or female, we’re all here to become healthier individuals.
At my heaviest, I weighed nearly 500 pounds, and even on my 6'4" frame, I felt extremely fat, and ashamed of how I appeared. To find clothes that fit me, I had to shop in specialty Big and Tall stores, or online. Before sitting down, I’d have to examine the chair to see if I thought it’d be able to hold me. On planes I needed seat-belt extenders, at amusement parks there were rides I knew I would be unable to ride. The point is, being so morbidly obese permeates every facet of life. Living that way, with that constant internal dialogue reminding you how far gone you are, it became normal and a well-engrained train of thought: “I’m too fat for that.”
As pounds came off, as inches disappeared, the mentality remained. This journey is a long one, and the transformation is constantly occurring in such small increments that it’s difficult to see the bigger picture, and acknowledge my accomplishments. To this day, when I look in the mirror, I still see that 500-pound man, even though I’ve lost nearly 35% of my total body weight. I still judge chairs before I sit in them; I still get anxiety when waiting in amusement park lines, worrying that I’ll be asked to exit the ride in front of everyone. Honestly, the mental acceptance of my changing body has been more difficult to achieve than losing the actual weight.
As time goes on, I’m putting an increasing amount of effort into changing the way I think about my body, and trying to respect it more. It’s not an easy thing to do, and takes work to start changing the way I think about myself, to be kind to myself, not negative. I taped a picture of myself at my heaviest to my bathroom mirror, that way I can look at my reflection and see how different I am than I was. When I wake in the morning, the first thing I do is scoot to the edge of the bed and stretch, reaching up and over my body side to side, and reach all the way down to my toes. I couldn’t do these things before, not at 500 pounds. I know what my body can do today, because the sum of all those little, unnoticeable transformations have enabled me to be able to live as freely as I do today. I look forward to all the new things I’ll be able to do as more weight disappears and I get even closer to my happy weight. No matter what, every single day that arrives is an opportunity for me to improve myself, enjoy life, and appreciate how far I’ve come.
Follow Kenny on Connect @kdselke