Monday, November 21, 2011

5 Ways Getting In Shape Has Messed With My Head

If you just met me within the past year, you may not know that I used to be a pretty big guy. Big as in “wide.” I was a pretty big guy my entire life. When I graduated high school I was 6’6” and weighed about 240 or so. Not huge by any means, and with my height, I wore it well. But I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. I often thought that the reason I wasn’t shooing women away with a stick was because I wasn’t an attractive guy, when really, it was probably more because I was antisocial (that‘s what listening to Korn does to you) and extremely shy. I was uncomfortable around people I didn’t know well. Talking to a girl I didn’t know was a bit of a small miracle.

2007: 315 lbs., 34% body fat, disgusting beard, man-boobs.

2011: 215 lbs., 10% body fat, and a beard that kills inferior beards...also, abs.

When I was around 21 years old, I ballooned to about 315 lbs. I was in a relationship with a girl I hated, I had quit college, I hated my job, my best friend’s health was getting worse, and I was more depressed than I had ever been in my life. I can’t blame my weight gain on any of those factors, but they definitely didn’t help. I would drown my sorrows by eating an entire pizza or staying up all night playing video games and eating chips, downing them with Pepsi. Going to the gym, which has been something I’ve loved since I was 16, became a chore. Sometimes I would tell my girlfriend I was going to the gym and then just go to my house for a few hours just to get away from her. After we split, I found myself with an abundance of free time, which was usually spent at the gym, and my weight went from 315 to about 260 in about six months, and it would stay there for a few years.

In late 2009, I went through a very nasty break-up with my fiance, and basically spent all of 2010 in a depressed haze. I eventually realized that being depressed was killing me, and in order to take my mind off of the break up, I immersed myself in two things: school, and dieting. In September of last year, I was 260 lbs. and my body fat was around 24%. Right now, I weigh between 210-215 and my body fat stays around 10-11%. For the first time in my life, I know that I have a fantastic body, save from the stretch marks and little bit of extra skin from my bigger days. However, despite looking the way I’ve always wanted to, it’s done some damage to my psyche in a number of ways.

5. I Fear My Favorite Foods
Like any red-blooded American, I like three things: violent sports, beautiful women, and eating things that used to be animals. Animals that were bred, killed, cut up, breaded, put in a fryer, smothered in hot sauce and served with other things that are made up of dead animals. Hot dogs fresh off the grill on the 4th of July, Little Caesar’s pizza while watching WrestleMania, and watching the Bengals with a big basket of buffalo wings in front of me, those are probably my three favorite things in the world. The only problem is that I’m scared shitless of all of those things now. My routine is basically like this: Monday through Friday is strict dieting, I won’t even allow myself to eat half a Tootsie Roll if it were in front of me. Saturday is a little less strict, but I try not to go too crazy. Then Sunday comes around, and if you put a cake in front of me, that bastard is getting eaten…entirely…by me. Then I get eater’s remorse and hate myself.

The best of all worlds.

I’ve always had a problem with eating too much. I can easily put away five plates of food at a buffet and still go in for two desserts. This past July, I went to Cici’s Pizza, and I ate so much that I couldn’t stand straight up (no, that‘s not hyperbole, I literally couldn‘t stand up straight). I had to go to the restroom and make myself throw up to feel better. The next time my friends gathered at Cici’s, I brought a protein shake and didn’t eat anything, just because I was afraid of overdoing it again. I haven’t had any incidents like that since, but I still have the fear in me. I’ll make plans to go to a BW3s to watch the game, and while I look forward to it, I’m incredibly frightened as well.

4. I Became An Arrogant Dick
To put it simply, I became the guy that I used to hate. For years, I would hit the gym, see the guys that constantly check themselves out in the mirror, and think “Dude, is that really necessary?” I now find myself walking extra slow anytime I find myself near a mirror. You know those guys that constantly take their shirts off because they know they look good? Two years ago you couldn’t pay me enough to take my shirt off in public. Now, it’d be a challenge to find a social function where I don’t. I’m sure it annoys a lot of people.

I don’t think I do it for purposes of vanity. I think I just spent so much time wanting the body that I have now that I’m still in somewhat of a shock that I achieved it. I make no bones about it when I say that I’m proud of myself for what I’ve achieved. I remember my very first year of college, I took weightlifting as an easy A, and one day the professor (I guess you can call him that) brought in a fitness magazine. If you’ve ever seen a fitness magazine, I don’t have to tell you that the cover of the magazine featured a guy with ripped muscles, 6-pack abs, the whole nine yards. The professor then said “This is not possible. The only way people look like this is if they have superior genetics or they use steroids.” Well, I would like to respectfully disagree. I’ve never used steroids (despite the fact that some people have challenged it), and while my father was a former athlete and Army man, looking at me as a child, it’s safe to say I didn’t have genetics that were “superior.” So to that professor who said it was impossible: go fuck yourself, because I did it.

Some people have shown disdain for me because of my newfound confidence. Many of you are familiar with one of my previous writings entitled I Got Some Hate Mail…This Is My Response. If you’re not, go read it, because it’s probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written. To make it brief, someone calling themselves “Kenny” (if that is your real name, Jason) had grown quite upset over my arrogance. He then went on to question my sexuality, challenge me to a fight, and insult my passion. I've always tried to make my arrogant comments come off as sarcastic, but seeing as some people are unfamiliar with sarcasm, I shall close the register at this point.

I also find myself walking in a public place and seeing very attractive women with their significant others, and I immediately think “I’m better looking than that dude.” And I’m not joking when I say it, I sincerely think that. Maybe that kind of confidence is a good thing, and if it is, I hope it pays off sometime soon.

I truly hope that anyone who knows me on a personal level doesn’t look down on me for these types of things. I hope they see it the same way I do, which is to say that I’m confident with how I look, and maybe I gloat about it, but in my normal everyday life, I’m actually quite modest and humble.

3. It’s Draining My Wallet
I buy a lot of supplements. Off the top of my head, everything that I currently take on a daily basis is: multivitamins, omega-3, CLA, Thermo Burst, creatine, BCAAs, glutamine, N.O. Explode, and two different types of protein. That puts quite a hit on the old bank account every few weeks. Buying supplements is a lot like being a drug addict. It starts off where you start drinking protein shakes, and you like it and it makes you feel good. Then someone says “Hey, give this a shot,” and then that thing becomes something you want all the time, but you can’t give up your protein shakes. So in terms of drugs, I started with smoking a joint, and worked my way up to crystal meth.

Supplements are a slippery slope. It starts with one thing, then progresses to another, and another, and another, until you eventually find yourself killing hookers for Muscle Milk. And much like an addict, I can’t stop taking the stuff. I once ran out of CLA, decided not to renew my stock, found that my body fat percentage had gone up slightly, and then ordered some immediately. At least now I can settle for the off-brand products, because they’re essentially the same thing, but I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t be better off financially if I could kick this habit. I just hope my future children don’t hear about daddy’s tortured past and think less of him.

The "Jack the Ripper" of the supplement world.

2. I Gained Confidence, Then Reality Kicked In
You ever have something awesome happen, and then someone ruins it. Like if you went up to a friend and said “I got an A on my exam, it’s the hardest class I’ve ever taken and I got an A,” and then your friend says “Yeah, but you didn’t get an A+.” That’s how I feel a lot of the time.

I used to think dudes that were in tremendous shape had it easier. For me, it’s improved almost nothing. I’m healthier, I look better, I receive a lot of compliments, I get a lot of people asking me for fitness advice. Outside of those types of things, stuff hasn’t really gotten any better. I still get angry, I still get depressed, and I still feel overwhelmed a lot of times. A lot of it has to do with women. I had much better luck when I was in the 260 lb range. The quality of women I get now has vastly improved, but more than once recently I’ve found myself on the receiving end of a “hit it and quit it,” although that may just be karma coming back to bite me in the ass. Earlier in the year I found a woman that I was and still am really into. I thought I had a shot, totally didn’t. No biggie, I moved on. Found a new girl, started dating her, and she dumps me to marry her 41-year-old boss. Shrug it off and move on again. There’s a few fine women I wouldn’t mind getting to know a little better, and then I think “Forget it, you know how it’s going to end.“ Now, I’m just kind of doing whatever. Despite my newfound confidence, I was quickly reminded that the world will kick your ass, and it doesn’t give a shit who you are or what you look like.

For years I heard from people in the wrestling business that if I had the body, I’d have a contract with one of the major companies. I won’t hesitate to tell anyone that I think I’m a damn good professional wrestler, and I would put my skill up there with anyone else on the independent circuit with my size. Now, I have the body, and nothing has really improved, as a matter of fact, some people think it’s diminished my appeal, as I don’t look as imposing as I used to. Maybe I haven’t marketed myself the right way, and I’ve taken steps towards changing that recently, so we’ll see.

1. Body Dysmorphic Disorder
According to Wikipedia, body dysmorphic disorder is described as: a type of mental illness, a somatoform disorder, wherein the affected person is exclusively concerned with body image, manifested as excessive concern about and preoccupation with a perceived defect of his or her physical features. I didn’t even know about this until my buddy Hooks told me about it a few months ago. He brought it up when I said something about being concerned about my body fat increasing slightly. When he told me about it I looked it up and thought “I’m not that crazy.” Then I noticed that I was becoming obsessed over things that I was already very meticulous about and letting it affect my mind. Like if my weight had gone up, I would get upset with myself. I would eat a little less at each meal, workout at a faster pace, do extra or more intense cardio that night, etc.

The more research I did about the disorder, the more I realized that I may indeed have a problem with it. I don’t have a lot of the “symptoms” like suicidal ideation, anxiety and panic attacks, or alcohol and drug abuse. But then they list several “compulsive behaviors” normally associated with it. Things like compulsive mirror checking, seeking reassurance from loved ones, and excessive dieting or exercising. All of which I am guilty of.

And honestly, I hate to say this, but it’s all about my abs, I really don‘t want to lose them because they‘re something I had always wanted. For a long time I thought that if I let myself stop dieting for even more than a few days that they would just disappear. At the time I was still new to dieting, and now that I’ve done more research and understand it better, I stress about it a lot less. I’ve lightened quite a bit now that I’ve reached a point where I’m actually trying to put on some muscle mass, and I know the only way to do that is by eating a lot more than I’m used to. I have my apprehensions about it, but I still make myself do it. I spent my entire life so dissatisfied with the way that I look that I’m terrified of reverting back to that state. I’ve gotten better. Scales and body fat calculators are things that I use very sparingly when I used to check them everyday. I learned that it’s more about what the mirror says and not what the scale says. Scales and body fat are so dependent on so many variables that it can fluctuate on a daily basis.

Why did I want to write about all this? I initially started writing trying to be funny, then it took a left turn into serious. Please, if you’re reading this, don’t worry about me, I’m good. All five of the things I listed are things that I’ve improved with recently. I no longer fear watching the game with a basket of wings in front of me, I don’t obsessively check myself out in the mirror other than to check my progress, and while I do still look at the abs, I don’t freak out about them anymore, at least not as much.

Like I said earlier, I’m proud of what I’ve done. I set a goal for myself, and when I reached it I kept going, maybe even going a little too far. But now I know that reaching your goals can still have its negatives. So for all of you that have asked me for dieting advice is the recent past, I’m a living example that what you want is possible, just don’t overdo it like I did.

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