Fat Is More Than a State of Mind

I was inspired by “My body is a cage of my own making” by Roxane Gay. This essay is about me and no one else.

Not me: Image by Bruno :Germany from Pixabay

My body has been called butterball, fatso, fatty, roly-poly, overweight. I call myself carrying excess weight (easier to swallow). The names don’t quite describe how I often feel. Fat. I feel it in my bulging stomach, the rolling love handles, the man boobs, the loose skin hanging under my chin and upper arms. TheFreedictionary.com defines the word fat as it applies to a person as “Obesity; corpulence: health risks associated with fat. Unnecessary excess. Having much or too much fat or flesh; plump or obese.” This isn’t about body image or body shaming. This is about my health and my crazy fantasy of living at least thirty more years.  

The fatness, I mean, excess weight, began when I was eleven or twelve years old. Puberty, I’m sure, had something to do with it. I did lose more weight in the later teen years because of my heroin addiction (I’m not pushing that as a weight-loss option). My body cut me a break afterward, and I was average into my mid-twenties. I’m not talking slim and trim. You just didn’t need a thesaurus filled with substitutes for the word fat to describe me.

Weight through the Years

I never seemed to worry about weight through my twenties and mid-thirties. I bought a bigger size if I had problems putting on my pants or fitting into my shirts. Then, I would just go back to my regular routines. For several years afterward, during my early thirties, the fast life associated with sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll helped me maintain a weight level that would make me feel comfortable. Unfortunately, the yo-yo weight was due to the ingestion of copious amounts of food, drugs, and alcohol. I tried a little exercise in between, but the fast life was too fast, and I had no time. Anyway, living a healthy life was the least of my problems. I am not advocating this sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll lifestyle to solve your obesity. Hell, I was lucky to get out of it alive.

Yo-yo weight has been plaguing me for the past more than forty years. It began with bartending in a German restaurant. Too much beer, Bratwurst, Weiner Schnitzel, and shots of Jägermeister. After I left the restaurant and moved into the world of Hollywood, I stabilized. For a while. Then, I would go up. Feel miserable about me. Try something different. Lose weight. Gain weight. Feel bad about me. Try something different. And the roller coaster ride would start all over again.

Weight through the years

There were doctor-prescribed pills. Therapy. Weight loss programs. The gym. Eating less. Eating healthier. Running half and full marathons. Drinking less. Fewer drugs. My life has been a lesson in fooling myself into thinking that your problem is just about your weight. It’s your state of mind, they say. If I would just pump up my mind, my body would follow. But, my weight problem, like life, is a little more complicated.

My problem is I loved all the things that made me fat (I’m sorry, overweight. roly-poly, bubba cheeks). I still craved food, drugs, alcohol, and the escape from reality that all three provided. Then, I convinced myself that all I had to do was do away with two of these, and my life would turn around. Well, I got rid of drugs and alcohol. I’ve been sober for nearly eleven years now. However, there is still food. A lot of food. And I just can’t damn stop.

Image by Rebecca Matthews from Pixabay

The crisis now is that all that fat on and in my body is causing me health issues. Over the past ten years, I’ve become a textbook case in everything that could go wrong with one person’s health. There was Hepatitis C (cured). The two knee replacements, one for each leg. I’m pre-diabetic and suffer from bouts with Sciatica. There are breathing issues, and the doctor says my persistent cough is caused by Acid Reflux. I’m not saying all these issues are directly caused by my fat problem, but they sure don’t help.

I have plans. I need to add at least thirty more years to my life. I’ve wasted a lot of time, and I’m playing catch-up. Seventy-three and a college student two years away from my BA. Fantasies about a Master of Art and a Doctorate are rolling around in my head. Why not? I don’t have a full-time job, and I don’t play golf. So my only other options are dying from a lifetime of bad habits or getting my act together and prolonging my life. So I’m back to weight loss programs and regular visits to the gym and walks through the neighborhood. Oh yeah, learning to put less lousy food into my body.

In leaner years

There are real consequences to abusing your body. I know in the end, how many more years I live will be determined by more than how much food I eat. My genes, the environment, and roll of the dice will have a say. In the meantime, being overweight with fat won’t help. I guess I need to also work harder to find a different state of mind.

Author: Antonio Pedro Ruiz

Antonio Ruiz is an ex-junkie-alcoholic, former seminarian, one-time radio host-producer, past community organizer, continuing to be a media advocate, retired television reporter, ex-commission executive director, once a street vendor of jewelry and gloves, waitron (waiter to you), a former bartender who drank too much on the job, an ex-motorcycle courier who learned to ride a bike just for the job, ex-airport shuttle driver, former Entertainment news director-producer, the best time of my life, one-time live TV events red carpet producer-executive producer, ex-small business consultant, ex-youth media and journalism mentor, and now a college student who also has been married three times (thirds the charm), and just couldn't help living with two other women because well, that's part of my story.

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