Let’s talk about my weight

Gray Hughes

I’ve heard the talk around town about me.

Whenever I talk to people, it’s always mentioned. They bring it up, and I’m more than happy to talk about it because it’s something I’m very open about.

I’m talking, of course, about my weight loss.

I was on the heavier side of things for a long time. I was always one of the “larger” kids in my class despite being one of the shortest (I didn’t really grow until I got to college).

I remember getting my physical before fifth grade, and my doctor told me to lay off the junk food. I think I hit 100 pounds before a lot of kids in my class, and I know I hit 200 pounds before pretty much anyone my size and age.

Despite my family’s best efforts, I never really ate that healthy. This got even worse after I got my driver’s license. Coupled with money I made during the summer and then working odd jobs during the school year, I made frequent trips to convenience stores and fast food restaurants.

I’ll admit it: I like junk food. In fact, I’d call myself a junk food connoisseur. I love candy, chips, pretzels, soda—basically anything that you can get from a gas station that’s bad for you. And, pretty much every day on the way to school or work, I’d get some sort of junk food to eat or drink during the day.

When I played sports, I was always the slow kid who was not in shape. I played with some really good athletes, and trust me when I tell you I was not one of them. And when I was finally making some progress with my weight my senior year of high school I tore my ACL, which left me unable to do anything physical other than physical therapy for a couple of months. By the time I was cleared for activity, it was the summer before college, and I was more concerned about making the most  of my time with my friends rather than exercising. And when I was in college, I think I went to the gym three or four times. Understandably, I was more concerned with academics than I was with “gains.”

I don’t like exercising, either. I find running monotonous and boring, and going to a gym makes me anxious. I always feel like someone is judging me. Even when in my post grad life I had a membership to a gym that dubbed itself the “Judgment Free Zone,” I always felt judged, and I always felt like people were checking out the fat kid on the machines.

In fact, before moving here I had pretty much given up. I was living the bachelor lifestyle; I ate a lot of frozen microwave meals (particularly chicken potpies). I was pushing nearly 300 pounds. I was prediabetic, woefully out of shape and considered obese. It was getting harder and harder to find clothes that actually fit me — it’s pretty hard to find a 40 inch waist when you have a 30 inch inseam.

Then, I moved here, and my entire lifestyle changed. Rather than spending my weekends going to games, eating cheesesteaks, pizza and crab fries (if you know, you know) and doing pretty much nothing physical other than screaming my head off because I am a stereotypical Philadelphian when it comes to sports, I spent my weekends hiking all year and then skiing in the winter and mowing my lawn in the summer. My old job kept me sitting still most days; now, if I don’t have my daily walk to the post office (which I realize isn’t that long but it’s still something) I feel like my day is incomplete.

But perhaps the thing that has changed the most is my diet. It’s rare that I drink soda anymore. It’s even more rare that I eat something fried or something I can get from a gas station.

I’ve also expanded my palate to eat a wider variety of food. I used to never eat fruit. Now, I’d venture to say it’s a staple in my diet. I’ve grown more adventurous, too. The other night, I ate something called a broccoli quinoa burger. When these “burgers” were brought up to me as a meal possibility in the past, I scoffed. There was no way on God’s green earth that I was going to eat a broccoli quinoa burger.

But the other night I wasn’t given a choice. When I saw them, I was a little reluctant, but because I’m a big boy now I ate them. I just convinced myself I was eating a vegetarian crab cake. And guess what? They were delightful. I ate several.

Because of my lifestyle adjustments, living a more natural life getting outside and eating better, I’ve dropped 90 pounds since I moved here, 70 pounds since I started at the Prevailer and 40 pounds this year alone.

This has brought some downsides. I’ve had to buy new pants because my old ones made me look like a little boy wearing his dad’s clothes. But that’s a small sacrifice to make in order to be healthy.

I didn’t lose weight because I’m concerned about my image. No, I couldn’t care less about that. I did it because I wanted to be healthy. Like I said, I was obese and prediabetic. I couldn’t do anything without being sore. I wanted to make sure that, one day, I would be around to play with my grandkids.

Because at the rate I was going, I was not going to be around that long.

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