The picture on the right was taken of me back in March 2003, when I was making a presentation for my then-employer. As you can see, I was...and am...kind of a big guy.
And yes, I'm well aware that picture is not very flattering. So much so that I now understand (on some level) why a particular person stuck me in the "friend zone".
At that point, I weighed close to 330 pounds.
I've always had a weight issue - when other people think that I have played pro football in my past, I always think that I'm more likely to have played Orson Wells. You name the pop culture cliche about fat people - especially fat men - and I embraced it. My self-esteem was low, and my weight became a convenient excuse - after all, I ate healthy, I just had a healthy appetite. (And like Eric Cartman, I wasn't fat, I was big boned). Sure, I lost a little weight right after I moved to Chicago, but that was due to lack of food - no real effort on my part.
However, back in April, my doctor had advised me about weight loss...and at that point, I thought of my father.
Ironically, four years ago this month, my father had a triple bypass...and died three weeks later. This was a man who worked 12 - 14 hour days, seven days a week. He smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. He seemed to have the same meal no matter where we went to eat - feta cheese omelet, wheat toast, and coffee with cream. After his death, my mother and I found enough vitamins in his room to open a health food store, as well as some popular infomercial-based health products. Then, it was enough to make me decide that I would take better care of myself.
And in the past few months, I have by walking regularly, drinking more water, and eating more sensibly. Small things, sure, but enough to help reinforce my new commitment to living in a healthier way. People (especially coworkers) are beginning to notice that I "look good". I'm feeling slightly more energetic, and more positive, even though there are areas of my life I would like to improve. (Most considerably, my love life...but that's a post for a different time). In fact, many of the smaller changes I've made have been the least difficult.
Consider it "Chapter Two" of my life in Chicago - reconnecting with old friends, continuing new friendships, and seeing where it all takes me. Committing myself to sticking around awhile, and to being the best person I can be.
This past Sunday, I indulged myself - I bought a new bathroom scale (hadn't own one for years - was afraid it might fall apart if I stood on one. Yes, really). After an initial recalibration, the numbers finally settled - 275 pounds, 43 less than at the doctor's office in April.
At that point, I wanted two things:
I wanted someone to take a picture of me now, for a record of my progress to date.
I also wanted my father to see that picture.
Sadly, only one of those desires has a likelihood of coming true.
P.S. Weighed myself today - 269. Go, me!