He Joined WW to Lose Weight. He Found “a Base for My Queer Identity.”
I came out at age 22 by sending a letter to each member of my extended family to inform them that I loved them but that I was struggling because I couldn't always believe them when they said they loved me. I told them that this was because, being gay, I could never be sure they'd still love me if they knew about my sexual orientation. I sought their blessing, knowing that having their support would fuel me in my endeavors going forward, which was so vital at that young age. Including them seemed important as I have always valued and respected my family—I needed them to know me, truly know me, rather than just seeing me at the surface.
I'd always known I was different but didn't at first have a name for it. I was bullied growing up and only knew that I didn't want to be what the other kids called me; I didn't want them to be right. It was in middle school that I realized I was gay—that was the name for my sexual orientation—and it was a fairly lonely road from then until age 22, when I finally decided to be public on the topic by including my family.
When I joined WW, I didn't anticipate finding a great base for my queer identity, where I'd feel at home. But I did and it's given me a sense of potential that just wasn't there before, and that's really exciting.
“WW has given me a sense of potential that just wasn’t there before, and that’s really exciting.”
Before I joined WW, I was burnt out with my career and had turned to food for comfort. I had always been on a weight roller coaster, but I had recently put on a significant amount of weight and was really uncomfortable in my body. I felt unattractive and unhealthy. I remember going on a short hike when I was visiting friends in Southern California and really struggling. I just couldn't keep up.
On that same trip, a family member told me about WW. I heard about it before, of course, but they explained it as a program that takes some of the emotion out of food, which really resonated for me. I downloaded the app on my phone and promptly found out that at lunch, I had my entire day's worth of Points® at the Cheesecake Factory! I started from that point forward, and that was like two or three years ago.
I lost weight pretty quickly and felt really good about it so I actually exited the program. But I soon realized I had a ways to go in terms of my mindset. I gained back 35 pounds and rejoined WW because I hadn’t found anything else that worked. Since rejoining, I’m learning about shifting my mindset, changing the language I use around whether foods are “bad” or “good” (“high-Points days” rather than “cheat days”), and having any type of food I want as long as I’m tracking.
Making new connections
The LGBTQIA+ Connect Group has been such a source of support, and it’s been such a positive experience to find this group of people within the LGBTQIA+ community who encourage and reach out to one another. I know I can always count on that group, no matter how rough my day was or how things are going for me at any given moment.
I also started going to Workshops in person and have met this amazing, supportive crew of characters, and I have just really felt at home and supported by them. With their help, I’ve reached Lifetime member status, which is when you reach and maintain your weight goal.
Learning to love myself
So many people in the queer community struggle with body image and anxiety. Many of us are coached from pretty early on that we don’t quite measure up, that there’s something about us that's a little weird or different. And that can really impact our relationships with ourselves. I’m proud that I loved myself enough to start this journey—to believe I was worth trying for.
“Many of us are coached from pretty early on that we don’t quite measure up.”
Living my truth is now more natural; I live in a moderately sized city with a more visible gay population and a Pride festival every June. I wouldn't describe living out and proud as easy, but it's very rewarding and I see the rewards daily in terms of my own self-acceptance and self-love and even having the motivation to join WW years back—at a time when I was not proud of my physical health nor my dietary choices. I've learned a lot about myself through WW, and I truly believe that the pride I feel about the fitness and health goals that I've achieved with WW adds to the pride I feel as a gay man in the world.