Two years ago, I was a morbidly obese teenager on a weight loss rampage. It took me about a year to trim my 47” waistline down to 32”. I lost 54kg (120lbs) naturally, with a hell lot of tenacity and will power. I am now a physically healthy 21 year-old, who has been maintaining his weight for a little over a year.
Don’t get me wrong; I definitely did reap the benefits of weight loss. I am very healthy with no traces of hypertension and fatty-liver that I was diagnosed with when I was gargantuan. I feel and look good. I no longer feel invisible, and finally know what it feels like to exude any semblance of attractiveness. I am not proclaiming that I want to be a fat kid again. It’s just that, when I was on my weight loss journey, most resources did a poor job of warning me about the fine print. I inadvertently signed up for the Former Fat Kid complex that tends to mess with your psyche.
1. “Are you having one of your supper time sadness?” – Eating will never be the same again.
Ask anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight, and they will tell you that an overhaul to your diet is almost a pre-requisite. The whole time I was losing weight, I only ate healthy food and deprived myself of any and all junk food. Now that I am eating like a normal person, it does not feel normal anymore! I constantly feel like I am over-eating. And let’s not even begin on the sweet sinful food I stuff myself with on occasions. Every meal I enjoy is fiercely pursued by a fleeting sense of guilt and disappointment. I beat myself up senseless (emotionally) and vow to never eat again. I try to mentally calculate the amount of calories coursing through my digestive tract and compensate it with an unusually higher intensity of exercise. Did I also mention that this has been set on loop?
2. “Oh! I wasn’t expecting it to be that soft and flabby.” – I am stretched out, riddled with stretch marks, and will never be a topless model in this lifetime.
Let’s face it. Who isn’t in awe of Adonis’ musculature? Yes, I always held on to the fantasy of ending up with a great body complete with washboard abs. In reality, I just ended up looking like a stretched out rubber band. I guess the most apt descriptor would be ‘skinny-fat’. To make things worse, there will always be one or two boorish people who will invade your personal space and unwarrantedly touch you only to realize that you are not in fact ripped — to which I respond with a disconsolate “that’s loose skin”.
3. “OMG! You used to look like that?!” – The constant inner-battle of reconciling the desire to show people my fat photos yet refraining myself to be defined by my weight loss.
There is always an inexplicable need for validation from others. There is no pleasure like seeing someone’s reaction to your before and after photos. I want to forever bask in the glory of unwavering showers of compliments, awe and amusement. Unintentionally, you are also forever etched in their minds as ‘the guy that lost a ton of weight’ and they just can’t seem to let it go. So, what do I do? I delete and untag photos of my fat-self from social media platforms. I don’t bring up the fact that I used to be fat unless I have to. Problem solved, right? Sure, I totally do not want to secretly impress people with my determination and weight loss success at all…
4. “I miss not giving a damn.” – I wish I could go back to not caring about what others may or may not be thinking of me.
When I was at my rock bottom, I essentially became unaffected by opinions. I only had about two to three sets of clothing that I rotated to be worn. My hair was constantly disheveled and I did not bother shaving. My mind was not consumed by self-doubt and whether or not people would be repulsed by this appearance. I only ever had to consider my own comfort in what I was wearing. However, now it gets really tiring to be bogged down by my insecurities and constant need to be validated. Now I actually have to care about how I look like to others. I do not leave the house unless I have wax in my hair, and contacts in my eyes. I have become insurmountably vain, and I can’t seem to be doing anything about it.
5. “Can you please stop checking yourself out in the mirror?” – I have no other nemesis like the mirror, a piece of glass that shattered my soul.
What others might misconstrue as a moment of narcissistic indulgence might in fact be just a moment of self-loathing. As a general rule of thumb, whenever I see my reflection I stop to evaluate my appearance. And more often than not, I only have one question on my mind when that happens; “Do I look fat?” When I’m alone at home, the mirror really does a number on me. On numerous occasions I have spent a considerable amount of time in front of a full-length mirror naked and just hating myself. The worst part is knowing that you literally can’t look away.
6. “You have a serious case of the chronic douchebag face.” – I do not like to smile anymore.
I have been told many times that I do not seem approachable. This is usually due to my chronic douchebag face that appears to be really intimidating. Apparently I used to be really goofy and fun looking when I was fat. Well, that was because I couldn’t care less about my appearance and made really stupid faces in public. Now, I just care too much to smile. I refuse to smile with my teeth showing because I’m self-conscious about my fat cheeks. And I have actually developed a default face for myself to overcome this. Incredulous yet? Sadly, a single photo could either make me or break me. So, now I just look the same in almost all my photos.
7. “You are so much meaner now that you lost weight.” – I am no longer allowed to be funny anymore.
The stereotype that fat people have to compensate their appearance with personality was sadly true in my case. I was known as the ‘funny guy’ among my friends in school. Ironically, I wasn’t actually really funny per se. My really mean-spirited observations and comments just tended to yield laughter. After years of honing this skill, it has become second nature to me. Unfortunately, I have to constantly bite my tongue now, as people seem to be grimacing instead of laughing. Apparently, what I have to say now is just mean and offensive rather than funny. In other words, I am now devoid of personality.
8. “Why are you still single?” – It never seems to be the right time to actually allow myself to fall in love.
I have dated. But I never seem to want it to go anywhere further. Mainly, it is because I keep telling myself that I must first be able to love myself in the totality of my being, before I can even try to love another. I am insecure. I am damaged. I know that I’m a work in progress. I refuse to be distracted by love. I am afraid of love. I am afraid that I would lose my focus. I am afraid that my significant other would never be able to understand my irrational idiosyncrasies. I think I can only ever get together with another former fat kid.
9. “When are you going to start living?” – I am a never ending work in progress. Enough is never enough.
I have never stopped to think: “I’ve had enough of exercising now. I’ve had enough dieting now. I’ve had enough of weighing scales.” I still feel like I have a long road ahead of me. I feel like any moment now I’m going to wake up fat again. So I run, when I sure as hell hate running. The funny thing is I’m desperately running away from my past that hasn’t relinquished its influence over me. Perhaps I am feeling this way because it has only been a year and I am not entirely used to being ‘not fat’. Perhaps in the years to come, my insecurities will diminish. Perhaps I could even be happy again. But in the meantime, I’m just going to have to live with it.