5 Stages Of Letting Yourself Go


This morning, I received a notification on my iPhone informing me that I had been tagged in a photo on Facebook. This doesn’t happen all that often anymore, because I’m drawing ever closer to thirty, and Facebook hasn’t really mattered since 2009, so I was intrigued. Like a child rushing downstairs to open presents on Christmas day, I repeatedly tapped the Facebook app, eyes lit with anticipation. The picture loaded, and there it was…my fat face staring back at me.

In all fairness (to myself), I’m not obese or anything. I’ve just been a lazy turd for the entirety of 2015, and it turns out that, when I gain weight, the first place it goes is my face. Pretty awesome. Plus, the rental I was wearing for the wedding where this photo was taken fit pretty tight in the collar, which didn’t help. Nevertheless, that picture served as a real wakeup call, and, in all honesty, it wasn’t the first time that phone has rung. That’s what got me thinking. There are distinct stages of letting yourself go, and they need to be addressed for everyone’s amusement.

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1. Denial

Maybe you catch a glimpse of your amorphous naked body in the mirror on the way to the shower, get tagged in a disturbing photo on Facebook, or step onto the scale, but, whatever it is, something raises a big red flag in your mind. “Am I letting myself go?” you wonder. Shit no! Not you! You aren’t one of those losers that gets all flabby and terrible looking in your late twenties. Still, it probably wouldn’t hurt to hit the gym a couple more times a month. I mean, summer is over, so it’s not like it matters that much anyway. You’ll be hiding your wildly mediocre physique behind fleeces all fall. Besides, that scale is probably broken, or the mirror is warped, or that photo was taken at a terrible fucking angle. You’re fine. Everything is fine.

2. Anger

A few more weeks pass, maybe even months, and BOOM — another red flag is raised. But this time, the flag is on fucking fire. Maybe your doctor suggests you be more active to avoid death, or your mom blurts out that you’re looking a little chubby at a family dinner, or your significant other suggests that you lose a few pounds in a roundabout way. Next thing you know, you’re furious. Fuck them! It’s not you that has the problem — it’s the haters that are judging your body and passing onto you the incredibly unrealistic expectations set by magazine ads, Zac Efron, and Victoria’s Secret Angels. It’s total bullshit, and you won’t stand for it. So what if you like eating out five nights a week and only going to the gym 1-4 times a month? This is your life, and you’re fucking happy with it. Man, you’re so fired up now. Eat away the anger, fatty.

3. Bargaining

Fine — maybe you’ll cut down on the Chipotle intake. I mean, three times a week is probably a bit much. Those burritos aren’t exactly small. Hey, maybe if you cough up $35 a month for an LA Fitness membership, and really turn up your fitness swag, you can still eat out just twice a week without having a heart attack by the ripe age of 35. That’ll get the job done, right? Plus, you’re totally going to hit one of those pre-packaged, healthy-portioned meal places and stock up the ol’ fridge. That’s for sure going to happen, and you totally won’t hate every single $12 meal you microwave and then painstakingly force down your gullet at dinnertime. And maybe you’ll make a rule to only drink hard liquor during the week. Yeah, that’s it! Have a couple beers on the weekend still, but just use the hard stuff to get through the rest of your days. Cut back on the calories and what not. Great strategy. These are all totally good things that you’re one-hundred percent going to stick to for a long period of time. Look at you, taking all these steps to better yourself. You’re kickass!

4. Depression

Then, one night, after several more months of half-assing life, you’re watching Hard Knocks, and J. J. Watt is throwing up 850-pounds on bench press while some other freak with twelve individually sculpted abs cranks out crunches in the background, when it finally hits you: you’re a fucking mess. You really are becoming one of those out-of-shape losers. Depression sets in as you stare at yourself in the mirror, pinching at globs of fat on the body you’ve been abusing for the better part of two decades, and basking in self-loathing while brushing your teeth shirtless before bed. My God, you truly are disgusting. What happened to you? You were a high school athlete, for shit’s sake. Have some self respect. As you slump into bed, you think about how that hottie you banged freshman year of college wouldn’t even give the current you a second glance. You’ve dropped at least two points on the 1-10 scale of attractiveness due to sheer laziness. In some sick way, your physical decline is almost impressive. That’s how bad things have gotten. It’s as if you’re striving for mediocrity. The world grows dark as you think on all the poor health choices you’ve made in just the last six months. Ordering $26 worth of Jack in the Box for yourself at 2:45am last Saturday after day-drinking for 7 straight hours and then hitting the bars? Probably wasn’t the best idea. Downing three hotdogs and 11 Miller Lites at your first pool outing of the summer? Could’ve gone without that. The 7.5 week period at the beginning of the year where the most physically taxing thing you did was walk the dog? Holy shit, you’re an awful human being.

5. Acceptance

Finally, there comes a time when you have no choice but to address head on the issues with which you’re struggling. There are two forms of acceptance. You either: A) Accept that you no longer care about your physical health, have no real desire to improve, and are consciously choosing to let yourself go, or B) Accept that it’s time to make some serious changes in your life before you reach the point of no return and die alone, a formless blob of failure. If you choose option A, then hey, go do whatever you want. Who cares? You’re letting go, like Jack at the end of Titanic when he totally could’ve asked that chick to scoot over and climbed up on the door with her, but instead he chose to sink into the depths of the freezing ocean. But if you choose option B, it’s time for some action. Come up with a plan. Do stuff. Join CrossFit or get a personal trainer or something. I’m not here to tell you what to do. Figure it out. I’ve got my own problems.

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Ross Bolen

Ross Bolen is a New York Times Bestselling author, co-host of the Oysters, Clams & Cockles: Game of Thrones podcast, co-host of the Back Door Cover sports podcast, 2017 Masters attendee, bigger and more loyal Rockets, Astros and Texans fan than you, cheese enchilada aficionado, and nap god.

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