It seems selfish. You have to make YOU a priority over everyone else.
You’re a bad husband. A bad father. A bad son. A bad human.
You’re being selfish.
Yes, I am.
I was faced with a crisis last summer (summer of 2016). I honestly felt that I had less than a year left on this earth. Let me run this down for you:
- I was about 372 pounds
- I was short of breath a lot
- My clothing had stopped fitting, and I had to start buying the next size up
- I had a hard time getting my shoes on
- Sleep was terrible
- I was smoking and hacking up
- I had acid reflux all the time
- I snored really terribly and kept my wife awake all the time
- I hurt and ached when waking up and walking from my car to work
- Life had caught up to me
- I was going to die
I ate terrible and drank my face off in college. I think I was 32 before I really moved away from the party life. I was in crisis.
I was going to die.
It was no longer if I was going to live until 80 or 90….or 70….or 60….or 50…but now 42.
While people are much heavier than this and live for some time, I put a lot of miles on me with the bad habits. I felt a stroke or heart attack could hit me at any time, and with people putting physically demanding tasks on me, I felt any one of them could have killed me. I’m not sure they grasp how hard it is to do very basic things at that weight. Let alone is 96 degree temperatures. It’s called “death”, people. And I was scared.
I was going to die, and it was probably going to be within a year or two. It’s part of the reason this blog was started. I wanted my son to know me. But what’s interesting, is being ridiculously overweight is very similar to being a drug addict.
- You heighten the risk, significantly of dying young
- You may end up taking a father away from a young child
- Your salary is depended on for people to live
- Your weight is diminishing the quality of life of others
- The costs you incur to sustain that lifestyle are taking from other resources you could be spending on
- Your lifestyle is harming others, not just you
I had tried so many times to lose weight, I’ve lost track. Probably, just as many drug addicts try to quit drugs. Many times they fail. Many of them finally succeed. Often maybe they don’t have the right support systems around them. Sometimes, they have to charge ahead with their own path, and kick anyone’s ass who gets in their way.
The intervention came from me. Others have tried for years to get me to lose weight, while handing me a beer, slice of pizza, a cigarette, or cake. You can’t force people to change. I always kicked the can down the road. Monday I’ll do better. Next week after the big party I’ll start “dieting”. I used to be an athlete, so I’ll be ok. The worst is people suggesting you get expensive surgeries that force you to eat less. It’s humiliating to have these conversations with people….who do not comprehend how you are embarrassing them, but they want better results for you. Hey, if the surgery works for you, and you drop the weight forever, more the power to you. I just saw it as tourniquet to a gaping wound rather than a precise solution to a deep rooted issue.
A diet would imply that I would do a temporary measure to “fix” what was wrong, then there would be a period I would not “diet”, which would then have me gaining weight back.
I feel on my end, I never really knew how to eat right. I was a picky eater, so I put that on my shoulders. But a lot of my life dealt with emotional eating, eating to extremes, and happiness found through food.
I knew how to diet. I mostly understood nutrition. I knew how to exercise. And you put them all together, and I failed so many times.
And then I took a baseball bat to all of it.
My wife pretty much hates every part of my journey. I can’t talk about food…or exercise. I can’t really cook with her. I can’t do active things with her. She doesn’t eat any of the same foods as me. I no longer want to go out to shitty places to eat. I prep my foods and don’t really give a shit what she eats now, as I can’t live like that anymore. She is proud of my results, but it’s a journey I am doing mostly alone. My friends are pretty much poking fun at me because I post a lot of shit here….they just want to see the results. They feel this is some form of narcissism. Well, I don’t want a million followers. I want to write down what’s in my heart, have my boy know about who I am, and if I help a few people along the way, cool. If some of my blogs make people laugh, cool. But this blog, in particular, is not about narcissism, but….
Part of me is being selfish…
- I need to carve out time to exercise, at the expense of others
- I need to not go to the shitty food place, so I can stay on course
- I have to prep my own meals to break the cycle of years of terrible eating
- I have to say “no” to people.
- I have to be tough and firm on my plans for ME.
- I have to carve out time to rest and relax or I will become overwhelmed
- I have to find time to write and organize my thoughts, it’s hugely important to me and my journey
And because of this, I am down 53 pounds. I’m very happy with my results.
But it is coming at a personal cost to me. I’m not the same person I was. I don’t have the same interests. I want to explore, be fit, play sports, be out and about. I want to eat healthy, I want to surround myself with healthy people, I want to do fun things outdoors.
I have to be selfish.
If I am not selfish, I’m back on the path of dying. I don’t think people in my life appreciate the fact that if I am not firm about doing this, that I will be dead. This is not a drill. This is not hyperbole. I will, indeed, be dead by 45 if I don’t continue the path I’m on. And perhaps each month of being healthy, I might be buying another 6-12 months of life.
Yes, I have to be selfish….so I can be there for everyone who needs me to be there later.
I have to constantly remind myself about Kant’s Greatest Happiness Theory. One of my readings in college philosophy was about Immanuel Kant. I might bastardize this a bit, but the general principle of many of these guys, including Jeremy Bentham, was utilitarianism. Utility. Evaluating choices in life.
Most people are faced with several choices and pick the easy one for instant gratification. For example:
- If you hit snooze, you are happy for 9 more minutes, but you could be late for work.
- If you miss work, you are happy for that day, but it might affect your career and you might get fired
- You can take a bite of the chocolate cake and be happy for now, but not be happy when you get fat and no one wants to date you.
Our lives are faced with hundreds of decisions daily, and Kant and others would argue that your best choices in life are those which provide the greatest long term happiness. So, you should not hit snooze, because when you are punctual, it is good for your career. You should not miss work, so you can pay your mortgage and not be homeless. You should not eat cake so you can stay trim and meet wonderful people.
So, I have been that person who has done right in most of his decision making, but when it came to food, I had rationalized everything. I will eat the cake, because I will exercise tomorrow. I will eat that extra slice of pizza because it will make me happy, today. I will go to that party and drink because I plan on dieting on Monday.
I had essentially bypassed the Greatest Happiness Theory by rationalizing that my actions later would mitigate my decisions today. I had a way of trying to fool myself into thinking the greatest good was indeed being met, by me seeking happiness, today.
When you get to a point in your life where you feel you’re going to die, you have to start being more rigid on your decision matrixes.
You need to prioritize your gym time, your cooking time, your health time, and your DOWN TIME, at the expense of other aspects of your life. For now.
For me now, because I learned to more or less “eat right”, I CAN have a bite or two of cake, AFTER I hit the gym, and not really feel much guilt. I look at MyFitnessPal and see 800 calories left for the day, I’m not really sweating a scoop of ice cream once a month or so. This is much different than my days of “well, I blew my diet today, I might as well eat up and do better tomorrow”. And this repeats for 3 months straight. Yeah. It’s an addiction cycle to get to the point I was.
I have been running myself kind of thin lately. Between the 43-50 hour weeks and the 90 minute commute each way, my time has become less free. However, I still have to prioritize my health. Some good that has come out of this:
- more outdoor play time with my son, as opposed to playing video games
- more walks with my dog. She is soooo happy with all of the walks!
- Some walk time with the wife with the dog.
- More achievements done around the house because I have a lot more energy
But when it comes to my life….I have to be selfish. The needle on my compass must remain true north. I may take a small detour on my route, but I am continuing to go north. That’s the direction I’m going, and I invite others along for the ride. Otherwise, I must leave you behind. Or I’ll be dead, and will have left you behind anyway.
Delayed gratification. I want to wake up the day of my 42nd birthday in 7 months and be healthier than 41. 43 healthier than 42. And so on. I want to build on this, so I have many more years of providing for my family. So I can be there for my wife and take awesome vacations where we snorkel in the Caribbean.
I’m just not there yet people.
And I have to be selfish now.
So I can be there for you later.