Before 5

Watching The Biggest Loser really made me realize that I used to be that big. It made me ask myself: Why did I gain so much weight?

Like them, I was huge. And like them, I had my share of emotional issues that pushed me toward obesity.

Also like them, once I realized what made me start on my way to obesity, I started making real strides in becoming healthy and changing my life.

I’m a smart guy, and I understood how unhealthy I always was. And despite hating that I was always the fat guy in the group, I never did anything about it. I just kept shoveling food into my mouth and not exercising.

But as I think back, I understand why.

So Why Did I Gain So Much Weight?

This may sound egotistical and slightly narcissistic, but I’m pretty sure I gained all my weight and kept it on because I was special. I’m a dude, too, and fat guys are treated differently than fat girls (it’s not fair, and it’s not right, but it’s true.)

I was smart, friendly, and nice to people. I was always joking and funny, and because of that, I could be fat and people would like me anyway. Girls dated me–pretty girls!–and I was rarely single.

Professionally, I was never held back because of my weight. I became a college English teacher and skyrocketed from being an hourly tutor to the director of my center within 3 years.

Like I said, I gained weight because I was special. People never treated me like I was “that fat guy.” I got a few jokes and comments here and there, but outside of that, I wasn’t really affected by my weight.

So I just kept gaining.

Until…

I went to Hogwarts. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, not being able to fit on that roller coaster was really the first time I was held back by my weight. I was told I couldn’t do something I wanted to, and it was for no other reason than I was too big and had gained too much weight.

So I went home, and over the next three years I dropped nearly 150 pounds.

B.J. at 161 lbs

And you know what? That makes me feel bad. It makes me hate that guy I was. Not because I was overweight, but because I was so complacent. I never took responsibility for myself because I was more special than everyone else.

Except I wasn’t. I wasn’t a damn bit more special or entitled than anyone else.

The more I’ve thought about this situation, I’ve realized it was true elsewhere in my life, too. I never studied or read or tried in school because I could get by with “good enough” grades. It wasn’t until I was halfway through grad school that a teacher told me, “You’re going to be doing this professionally in a year or two. Get your head out of your ass.”

And That’s Exactly What I Did

On both counts. In school, I started studying and reading and revising. Lo and behold, my grades improved. And the moment I realized I wasn’t special enough to live forever and be unaffected by weight gain, I started eating better and exercising. Within two weeks, I started losing weight and feeling better.

In other words, I got my head out of my ass.

And I’m a better person for it. I’m healthier, and I’m happier. And I am significantly less entitled than I have been my entire life. And let’s be honest–that probably makes me a heck of a lot easier to be around.

What About You?

I’m not naming any names, but I know of a few people who are my former brand of special. (We can smell our own.) And I can see by how they act and approach life, people, and health that they are in the exact same place I was three years ago. It’s not easy to get out of that place, and it’s certainly not easy to deal with. But knowing that’s where you are is a good first step.

If you’re overweight, have you thought about the emotional side of why you’re overweight? Sure, it really boils down to eating too much and exercising too little, but if you’ve never thought about why you eat too much and exercise too little, then you’re never going to lose weight and keep it off.

I mean, I was too special to be diabetic, too special to have the same issues and problems as other obese people, and too special to die. That’s why I gained so much weight.

But I’m not special. I was going to get diabetes, have every single weight-related problem as everyone else, and eventually die from them.

And when I realized that, that’s when I lost the weight.

How special are you? Think about it.

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