I’m a Fat Man In A Fit Body

Yes, I said it and I meant it by declaring myself a fat man in a fit body. Despite my level of fitness, there is always that chubby fellow looking to resurface at some point – therefore I must be vigilant for the remainder of my life to never let that happen. Being a fitness fanatic, a nutrition and wellness consultant, and nutrition and fitness author, I am fully cognizant that 95% of dieters fail, and I could be a failure too.

But, I will only be a failure if I allow that to happen.

My friends, I know firsthand how it feels to believe that we are powerless over obesity – I have suffered from obesity in the past too. I also know firsthand that we can overcome obesity. You might honestly believe that it is impossible for you to lose weight – your belief would be wrong! Losing weight, and keeping it off is entirely possible. You only have to commit yourself to not just doing it, but also you must learn how to lose weight in a holistic manner.

What do I mean about losing weight in a holistic manner?

I mean you need to not only concentrate on the weight you need to lose, but to treat yourself as a whole person, taking into account your mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a obesity. According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, several comprehensive reviews have suggested that between 20% and 60% of persons with obesity, and extreme obesity in particular, suffer from a psychiatric illness. These percentages are typically greater than those seen in the general population. (1)

 Research suggests a relationship between excess body weight and depression. Persons with extreme obesity, for example, are almost five times more likely to have experienced an episode of major depression in the past year as compared with those of average weight. This relationship between obesity and depression seems to be stronger for women than men, perhaps because of society’s emphasis on thinness as a characteristic of female beauty. (1)

 Friends, my own periods of obesity have come as a result of my suffering from a diagnosed major depressive disorder coupled by significant Post traumatic Stress. Despite knowing better, I have also been one to mask my conditions with the temporary pleasures in which we derive from highly palatable foods that have been largely comprised of sugar, simple carbs, coupled with unhealthy fats. I know the shame that comes from sneaking off to the kitchen alone, in search of sweet treats to soothe the soul. Only to feel like a remorseful, fat pig afterwards. We cannot eat our way out of depression or the effects of PTSD. Trying to do so, only makes our problems worse and worse by the day.

Disordered Eating

Disordered eating is common among persons with obesity. Many people who seek out weight loss treatment report that they often eat for emotional reasons. Others admit to having difficulty controlling how often they eat and their portion sizes. Obese peoples eating behaviors are also often in response to the bombardment of food cues we receive from modern society. Surprisingly, only a small minority of obese people actually have formally recognized eating disorders.(1)

However, the most common eating disorder among persons with obesity is binge-eating disorder. Binge-eating disorder is characterized by the consumption of a large amount of food in a brief period of time (less than 2 hours), during which the individual experiences a loss of control. As a result, the individual eats much faster than normal, until uncontrollably full, in the absence of hunger, and often eats alone. After eating, the individual often reports disgust.

The above description describes me very well.

Does it describe you as well?

Attempting to mask my depression and PTSD, I have been a true binge eater. I could eat a whole large pizza in one sitting. Devouring large amounts of cookies, cakes and ice cream has always been too easy for me. Truth be told, being as I am a fat man in a fit body, it would be easy for me to revert back to these behaviors. The blessing in all of this is – now there is nothing that tastes as good as I now feel physically and mentally. I still suffer from depression and PTSD, but I reached out and received help for my conditions. There are some days where it is difficult when that fat bastard inside of me would like to crawl out of hiding, but he has become easier and easier to control over time. This is one of the reasons we always tell people that in order to lose weight and keep it off, they must create a new lifestyle for themselves. I cannot live the lifestyle of the fat man I was and remain in the physical and mental shape that I am in today.

We Lose our Health to Poor Nutrition!

There is an undeniable relationship between excess body weight and decreases in quality of life. Having been a fat man myself, I know this to be true through my firsthand experience – as well as through my extensive studies for this website.

Me when I was a fat man.
Full of shame, eating and drinking to mask my pain.

I have been fat and weak.

I have also been fat while also being physically stronger than at any other time of my life, even though I knew how to be physically fit and healthy.

 

Me receiving a military award
Me receiving a military award.

When I left the Navy in 1997, I was suffering from my depression and PTSD pretty fiercely. I hid from my problems behind alcohol and food. I didn’t care that I had become a fat man for a couple of years. I did seek help from the Veterans Administration, only to get a punch to the gut with their refusal. This only made my depression worse as then it was also coupled with anger and a growing embarrassment of the fat, weak man I was becoming. At this point, I was also suffering from bad acid reflux at night, along with digestive issues, and elevated blood pressure. I finally became disgusted with myself and lost my weight back down to a healthy level. I also once again became physically fit enough to return to military service at 45 years old.

Me and my lovely wife Loraine
Me and my lovely wife Loraine

In 2009, as I was preparing for deployment to Afghanistan, I blew out my spine at L5 S1. The injury was pretty horrible, with constant, excruciating pain. I was placed on pain pills, muscle relaxers and other meds right away. I also went through a series of epidural injections to my spine before undergoing spinal surgery which was followed by two months of physical therapy. As a result of this injury, it took me a year before I had learned to actually walk with a normal gait once again.

Depression and PTSD were now kicking my ass once again, and I had to get my life back to normal. Before my injury, I was weight training heavy three days per week, while also riding my mountain bike between 60 to 70 miles each week as well. I had been in the best shape of my life when I was downed by my back injury. I had to get back to some level of fitness despite my doctors telling me to never lift anything heavy again in my life.

I was a hard head and returned to weight training with an empty barbell and worked my way up to a 465 pound squat and a 275 pound bench press. Additionally, I was pulling 450 pounds for reps with the deadlift. The problem is, this kind of weight training requires a lot of fuel for the body, which I foolishly obliged. At my strongest, I was eating about 6000 calories per day and was getting pretty huge. I weighed in at 250 pounds on my 5′ 7″ frame.

Me dead lifting
Me dead lifting

I was strong as could be, but my health also had begun to suffer the consequences. My blood pressure was once again elevated, and I had also become pre-diabetic. Sure, we can become strong as hell, but strong does not always equate good health. I knew this, only I lost sight of reality by trying to be an overachiever in getting past my spinal injury.

Never Forget What is Most Important to YOU!

Our health is the most important thing we can possess. Because without good health, everything is is moot. Without good health, there will be a point where you will no longer be able to appreciate all the other good in your life. Today, my body is fit and trim, I am as healthy as can be. I work out for my health now, instead of brute strength. I eat only good foods that nourish my body, and have created a healthy lifestyle that revolves around good nutrition and physical fitness.

I have suffered the same indignities and health problems that come from obesity as you have. I may be fit, but I will always be a fat man in a fit mans body. I must be ever vigilant to keep that fat man down lest he once again rise to the top. Being fit and healthy is a lifelong endeavor, it is not something we do for a little bit. It should not be so much about vanity as it is about being healthy enough to do the things in life that we enjoy.

When you begin a weight loss journey, you must be all in. Anything short of all in, means failure at a later point. I still suffer depression and PTSD, along with chronic pain in my sciatic nerve as a result of my spinal injury. That being said, I can either be down and in pain, hating life,  or I can choose to live my life as fully as I can despite my personal issues that will never go entirely away.

When you decide to lose weight, success will come when you treat your weight loss holistically. You need to think about your mind and soul as well as your body. What affects one, will affect the other. For this reason, we teach people to “make their world small”. Or in other words, cut out as much of the superfluous stuff from your life as you can. Eat healthy, and exercise your body to the extent your doctor approves. You will have no regrets!

I am a fat man in a fit body!

(1) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

 

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