One of my favorite things about writing a blog is the responses I get when people choose to respond. I’ve gotten a comment this week, however, that simply broke my heart.
Here is the text of TAE’s comment, from this post about A&E’s show “Heavy”:
Hello I’m almost 14 and I’m about 300 pounds it’s not fun being one of the biggest in your p.e class or now being able to wear the cool tees shirts. I wish that I could get on this show because I can’t afford weight loss summer camps. I just want to be about half the size I am because I’m 5 foot 5-6 inches and that’s around the right size I need to be. I have tried weight watchers 4 times it don’t work after the first time. My doctor said I’m to young for wright loss pills so I’m down to going to a fat camp but cant afford it. I would love to look like a normal teenager but it’s hard to loss the weight I need to get away to a place where they will push me into loading weight.
My friend Colleen, writer of her own blog, Modern Crunch, asked me if I was going to try to respond. I said I wasn’t about to attempt to reason with a 13 year old kid about anything, let alone mental game, fitness, or philosophy. The only problem is that I can’t really get TAE’s remarks out of my head.
There were also some great responses to TAE from Chris and Gob, as you can see from the comment thread. Both those guys hit the nail on the head, but I’m still shaken up.
So, I’m just going to write out my thoughts and hopefully feel a little better, and if someone happens to read this and find it interesting or helpful, that would be nice.
The Fat Kid: Me
As you might have noticed at the top of this web site, I was once over 300lbs. I was always the fat kid in school. My clothes always fit funny, and I was always self conscious about it. I know what you mean when you talk about not getting to wear the cool shirts. I’m the lightest I have been since I was close to your age, I’d imagine, and I’m still battling my love handles. I wear my pants super low just so I don’t accentuate said love handles.
Are you familiar with the idea of muffin tops? Well, I have cake tops. Some people call them “mom hips.” They’re a problem, believe me.
People have always called me Big Jim, and I have always hated it. I don’t think they did it to be rude, per se. After all, at 6’1″ 310lbs, I was pretty damned big! I still wanted to punch them for it, though, truth be told. I don’t go around calling people “Fake Eyebrows Jeanine” or “Self Absorbed Cheryl” do I? No, I do not.
My point is I know how isolating it feels to be big. I know how helpless it feels, and I know that being full feels good when everything else feels bad.
I hate to tell you this, my man, but its going to get worse.
Next Stop: Romance
You’re 13 years old, going on 14, so that means you have recently started to think about girls (or boys, if that’s your thing) in some new and complicated ways. Your schoolmates are experiencing the same thing. Whatever your preference, you’re about to start interacting with your peers with the addition of a new romantic component, and that means that whatever teasing you are currently enduring, if any, is about to go from jet power to afterburner. Kids are cruel, but young adults are ruthless.
You probably already have some mechanisms in place to deal with this. In my case, I was the hilarious super-friendly fat guy. It works to keep the heat off you, but it works at a cost to your own happiness. Don’t put your self in a position where your last thoughts every night are things like:
- Why do I try so hard for nothing?
- What’s wrong with me?
Those negative mantras do permanent damage.
Now, you probably have a lot better game than I do. People probably love you. Trust me when I tell you, though, that life is much, much easier on the romantic level when you are fitter and slimmer. Trying to go through your dating life on the fat side will be highly problematic and pretty hurtful. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll get friend zoned a lot.
People will tell you things like “there are a lot of fish in the sea,” and that famous chestnut “Just relax and be yourself!” but the truth is that being more attractive physically simply attracts more people. Don’t get me wrong, though. What’s on the inside does count. It’s just that you usually don’t get a chance for it to count if your outside needs work.
You have got to lose the weight, buddy.
How to do it
I’m not a dietician or a physical trainer. I’m certainly not a doctor. That said, in my opinion, I don’t think that getting onto a reality show is the answer. You have to do this yourself, because even if you get on the show, you’re still going to be you when all the lights are packed up and the cameras are off.
You have to think long and hard about the kind of life you want to live, make some firm choices about yourself, and then change your mind about how you eat. At your age you are man enough to make these kinds of decisions for yourself. I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with your parents or your school teachers, but I bet if you ask around you can find someone who will help.
In short, you have to change your mind, not your situation.
Fat is not who we are, it’s just a type of cell that is under our skins. It does not have a will, but you and I do. It cannot adapt, but we can.
The good news, from my perspective, is that you’re already asking questions and looking for answers. You just have to stay on track, keep asking and keep trying.
I know it sounds dumb but you have to believe in yourself. Sometimes your heart hurts, and it only makes it feel worse if your stomach is empty as well, but the small comfort of being full right now only means more heartbreak and misery later. Trust me on that one.
Good luck, buddy. You can do it.
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