Robert's House of Hamsters

Somewhere between Sacramento, the Oregon border and that tingly feeling in your toes.


Half a hundred

Actually wrote this back in October, but I can't get another blog I want to put this into to work right, so it goes here for the moment:

I'm writing this a few days in advance of when I think this will happen, because if I don't, I'll probably chicken out.

But if you are reading this, it means I've lost 50 pounds since I started working on this whole weight-loss thing at the end of March.

When people find out you're losing weight, the two main questions you get asked are "What are you doing?" and "Why did you do it?" The first one's pretty straightforward: Watching what I eat a little closer and exercising. Well, the Readers' Digest version at least.

That second question's a little more complicated, and I've never really been able to give what I thought was a straightforward answer. My usual cop-out is "Something just kind of happened."

How insightful.

The more I've thought about what brought me to the point where something inside me, for lack of a better word, broke, the more convoluted it's become. I'm still not sure whether that's because I haven't thought about it enough, or overthought it. This probably isn't even the whole story, either, but it's what I'm comfortable sharing now, which is a whole hell of a lot more now that where there would have been a few months ago.

Let's go back to January. Or, maybe a better way to describe it, one of the absolute crappiest months of my life. There were a lot of little things that were grating on me, but two big events stand out.

First, my closest friend living here in Yuba-Sutter had just gotten a great job opportunity and was leaving. This was the fourth time in a span of two years the person I'd consider my closest friend here had left. Once you hit Time #4 on that, it really starts to grate on you. My personal attitude was basically, "Hey, been wanting to move out of the area? Start hanging out with me a lot, you'll be gone before you know it." Then, on a Saturday, I get a phone call from my mom: Three days prior, my grandma was recovering with flying colors from a heart operation. Now she was dead.

Put all that together, and I became a real miserable person to be around. Which isn't a good thing when you've decided to try to give dating a serious pursuit. The fact that I was 25, had never dated, or even been on a date (yes, that's singular), had become a real sore spot for me. That screamed "loser!" to me in my mind.

When you're in doldrums like those, you start to have clouded thoughts about your self-worth, sometimes based in real events, sometimes not.

One event in particular I kept circling back to: A weekend during the summer when I was going for a night out with friends after Second Saturday. One friend had another friend of hers from out-of-state visiting. This girl was absolutely gorgeous. Did I have a chance? No, but you still don't want to embarrass yourself.

Embarrassment step 1: Leave your button-down shirt behind. Embarrassment step 2: Have to stop at Target to get you a new shirt. Embarrassment step 3: Have everything be too small for you. At freakin' Target. So you have to make another stop at another store, and put everybody even more behind for Second Saturday.

I was also having these nightmares that all had the same arching theme: I'd be out in public someplace either with people I somehow knew or I would run into people I knew. But they wouldn't acknowledge they knew me, or even act as if I was there. Other times, I would have these George Bailey-meets-Clarence moments of "Would it really matter if I'd never been born?"

So, in March, I'm at a home group meeting, still in these doldrums. Go to use the bathroom. There's a scale in their bathroom. I think to myself, "What gigantic number would pop up if I stepped on there?" I go ahead and decide to feed that by actually weighing myself. My personal estimate beforehand was somewhere in the 290s.

The actual number: 268.

Something kind of hit me at that moment: My brain, or whatever was behind this crap mood, had been lying to me. There was concrete proof, in an LCD display, that this crap wasn't as bad as I was making it out to me.

So, if the number was already lower than I thought it was, why not try getting it even lower? Not like I had much pride left to lose.

It started with a mile walk. A website that offered calorie tracking. The mile walk started getting some running mixed in. After two months, I was down 20 pounds, and figured I was committed enough to plunk some cash down on a gym membership. And now, it's 6 1/2 months later. Pants are a 36 instead of a 42, and I could probably fit into 34s now if I wanted to. I get the same bagginess level in an XL shirt I used to get from 3XLs. And I figure I'm down to about 1.57 chins. Oh, and I went on a date. Wound up not ending as well as I thought it did, but maybe it won't take 10 months of trying before the next one.

50 pounds down, less than 20 to go to 200. All the health charts and whatever will still say that's too high, but for me, the last time I was that sort of weight was seventh grade. I'll take that, and once I get there I figure out what I'll do next.

This hasn't been the universal solution for me. I haven't had one of those nightmares for a while, but I still battle the "do I matter" moments more than I'd like to admit. I've learned there's still going to be some physical issues beyond weight, some of which can only be corrected with surgery that insurance won't cover and I can't afford on the insane riches you earn working in the newspaper business. But, at the very least, things gave gotten better.

At least, if I ever forget a button shirt again, I know I'll find something at Target- with a couple sizes to spare.