By Randy S. Robbins
I've lost a lot in 2011--my job, an alarming portion of my savings, and, at times, hope for my future. But one loss has balanced out many deprivations: I've lost 50 pounds. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision shedding so much weight, not after battling the bulge much of my adult life.
I was in great shape when I graduated high school. Slender, toned, and "love handles" had yet to enter my vocabulary. It's easy to forget after 24 years -- and more than three times as many pounds -- how one's own body once looked. So, when a close friend e-mailed some recently uncovered photos of us taken on his family's boat in
But the physique I once enjoyed changed when I tasted college life--especially because that life tasted of Cheetos, Domino's, and Milwaukee's Best. When I returned home the next spring and made the mistake of wearing a then-fashionable half-shirt, another friend laughed at my newly inflated spare tire. I intermittently dieted and exercised over the years, losing pounds here and there, but my appetite, fueled largely by emotional dissatisfaction, slowly but steadily tipped my scale.
If there is a world record for number of times muttering to yourself about losing weight before it's too late, I must own it. Sometimes I genuinely tried--but my lack of willpower always sabotaged me before significant results could persuade me to continue. Blessed with height and a knack for hiding my slowly mounting girth under loose-fitting shirts, I never appeared egregiously overweight, but as my 30's became my 40's and my eating habits further deteriorated, I was on the fast track to fatso. Increasingly frequent chest discomfort. Heartburn from consuming anything that wasn't an ice cube. Indigestion that woke me in the middle of the night with pain that put me in tears. I couldn't even suck in my gut enough anymore to look marginally respectable. Perhaps the final straw was the snoring. No girlfriend had ever told me that I snored. But when my current one complained, I realized my weight had reached a new order of disgusting. I studied myself in the mirror. Ahab would have harpooned me on sight. I looked like pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair.
It wasn't a New Year's resolution--like diets, they never last. But when I returned from vacation on January 3 at a corpulent 267 lb, I decided that enough is enough. I became obsessive about salad, making it nearly every meal. I spurned all things fattening, turning my mouth on my lifelong companion, salty snacks, as well as on pasta, pizza, or anything that might make a permanent home of my midsection.
By April, I started working out at the gym--occasionally at first, but increasing with a fanaticism that has me running, lifting, and sit-upping at least five, six or even seven, days a week, with so much sweat pouring off me that I look like a Benny Hill gag. I now feel guilty if I don't go to the gym, fearful that I will lose this newfound devotion and revert to my former sloth. I indulge in pleasures of the taste buds once in a while, but as soon as I have finished chewing, I am eager to return to the treadmill as soon as possible and burn those calories into oblivion.
My reward: 217 lb as of last week--a weight, and an esteem, not seen since my 20s.
My double chin in-the-making is gone, my face has so thinned that I look like a different person according to my girlfriend.. Best of all, my pants have been falling off my hips so regularly that I needed to drill an extra hole into the belt I had to buy to replace my original belt. I feel more desirable. I feel healthier. But most importantly, I don't feel like stopping. I'll never have six-pack abs--I'm too old and ravaged by past gluttony for my stomach to recover sufficiently--but I am shirtless at the beach this summer for the first time since years still began with a "1."
This is not a diet; it's a lifestyle change--which is the way it has to be. I no longer desire greasy, fatty, comfort foods--at least I try to keep that beast locked away. And I covet the sense of accomplishment that drips from my sweat-soaked gym clothes. After decades of failure and disappointment, I changed my body. I lost weight that I can actually notice. It wasn't just talk this time--I took action and maintained willpower. I bettered myself. But I must keep going. I'm afraid of letting that beast escape. I know too well my propensity for relapse and apathy, and I dread destroying all of my hard work and regaining anything that I have lost. Because, unlike so many other things lost this year, this loss is my gain.
I'm off to the gym now. I've got my sights set on 200.