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In ninth grade, my family went to Iowa over Thanksgiving to spend turkey day with my aunt and uncle in possibly the most mundane city in America: Des Moines. (To be honest, I don’t actually mind Des Moines, but it’s possibly the second-most boring place on this planet after Eli Manning’s brain). After having turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and the traditional Midwestern jello salad (still counts as a salad), I obviously had to go relieve myself. After doing my business, I saw that my relatives had a scale in their bathroom, as middle-aged suburbanites are wont to do. Being more curious than concerned, I stepped on the digital scale; when my weight popped up on the display, I was shocked. In a very bad way.
I had never been particularly skinny, but I had never thought of myself as fat until I saw how much I weighed. I played soccer all year-round and, honestly, thought that I was in pretty good shape. I wasn’t obese, but I certainly was on the wrong side of the BMI spectrum. Some would say I had “early-onset blogger’s bod.” But after being astounded by how much I weighed, I realized it was time for a change. I can’t really put a finger on what I did or how I did it, but in the time between freshman year Thanksgiving and sophomore year off-season wrestling workouts (a year and a half), I had managed to lose 30 pounds and then lost another 10 during wrestling season. I honestly could not tell you what I did, but somehow, some way, something worked.
Flash-forward an unspecified number of years to now. Just like everyone else in their mid-20s, I feel like I struggle with my weight. I try to eat only whole food with lots of fruits and veggies and lean meats, I exercise regularly, and I would say that I’m a fairly competitive runner. Even with all that, I always feel like I have an extra 10 pounds to lose. I’ve cut the majority of the fun things out of my diet (except booze; I will never be able to do that), and I would say that I stick to eating healthy for 90 percent of my meals. I still very much enjoy the food that I eat, it’s just a little tougher to pick things out that I know are going to both be healthy and taste good. These are all choices that I make for myself, my running, and my future health, so I don’t complain about them, but there are times where it’s kind of difficult. It’s hard work, but it’s good work.
I’ve been trying for pretty much my entire 20s to lose these last couple pounds, but no matter how hard I work, it just won’t seem to happen. So when I hear people giving their humble brag about how they lost more than half a pound per day in a month without doing any exercise, I die a little bit inside. (Honestly though, that’s a really incredible accomplishment; I’m really only just low-key jealous). We all feel like we do so much more work than everyone else and we deserve to get the gains that everyone else, and this is no exception. This person did something that I’ve tried for years to do and have simply failed to accomplish. Obviously, stopping my mild booze habits would help, but I feel that since I’ve already given up so much, my one last vestige of my unhealthy vices shouldn’t have to be tossed aside as well.
Any situation you see other people succeed where you failed is a difficult thing to digest. But when it comes to something as important to me as my weight, and something that I’ve tried so hard to control over the years, it feels like a huge slap in the face. To be real, it probably just motivates me more to try even harder, but there’s an initial feeling of helplessness where everyone else around you is having the success that you’re looking for but not achieving. After that initial weight that I lost when I was freshman in high school, I’ve always tried to stay mum about my weight-loss successes so that other people who struggled or failed to do what I was able to do wouldn’t feel helpless and stop on their way to accomplishing their goal. Weight-loss, long-term health, and body image are not zero-sum games, so why can’t we work to make everyone win?
Sometimes, it’s good to hear about other people’s weight-loss achievements; when my girlfriend read about that new fad diet, she immediately texted me, “I’m hundo P (translation: hundred percent) doing Whole 30 during January. Looks like no mimos for me on New Year’s brunch.” (Things Girls Do After Graduation: Try Whole 30). Some of the time, hearing about other people’s successes gets me motivated to try harder; other times, it feels like a slap in the face. Weight-loss is a very personal mountain to climb; sometimes you need a guide, and sometimes you need to hike it alone.
Losing weight was honestly one of the best choices that I ever made. It changed my life for the better in ways that I never thought that it could. It was a process, and it’s still something that I struggle with every day. But just know that if you lose a bunch of weight and tell me about, you’ll get a slightly salty column written about you. .
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