Facing the reality of weight gain is hard for anyone to do. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Maybe even more than once. You don’t want to step on the scale, but every time you walk by it you think about. You know you’re gaining weight, but if you don’t step on the scale it’s not real. Indeed, ignorance is bliss, but when it comes to matters of health, it is blissfully dangerous.
Now I know what you’re thinking as you read this. “Great, here’s another article written by some fitness guru whose biggest weight concern during his life has been do I have an 8-pack right now, or a 6-pack?” Not so, this isn’t one of those articles. This is also not one of those easy to read “list” articles you normally scan through while you eat your lunch. This is my story, one that I’ve been reluctant to share until now, so be easy on me!
Truth is I’m a fat guy at heart. It’s taken me most of my adult life to be comfortable with admitting that, but it’s true. I was overweight much of my childhood. I graduated high school weighing 260 pounds (I’m only 5’9). I LOVE food that is NOT good for me, not in the least; pizza, burgers, ranch dressing, chocolate, pasta… ranch dressing, fast food, prime rib, the list goes on! Wait, did I mention ranch dressing? (Particularly from Jet’s pizza, haha!) If I could I’d be like the Frank’s Red Hot lady and put that S@#$ on everything! My point is, I want my readers to know the real Mike Stack, not just the exercise scientist or the business owner, but the overweight kid who got picked on, and the overweight adult that used to tell himself he was too busy to worry about his health. I want you to know I’ve been fighting the exact same fight you’re fighting right now for my entire life.
So the story goes, I had a lot of pent up frustration after high school from being the brunt of jokes and treated differently because of my weight. Shortly after graduation I chose to channel my frustration into a steadfast determination to lose the weight and make something of myself so I could prove the naysayers wrong. With my new found purpose it didn’t take long to lose the weight..I actually even began competitive body building; competing at 170 pounds and 3-4% body fat (in fact it was this weight loss and that body building career that lead me to the academic pursuit of exercise physiology). I can’t even describe how great those achievements felt, I conquered my weight, my past, and I was on top of the world! Now, If my weight loss journey ended right there on the bodybuilding stage it would have been picture perfect, like something straight out of a primetime weight loss show..Fat kid gets determined, gets healthy, and lives happily ever after…But remember, this is life! And nothing’s that easy…At the time I didn’t realize it, but my most formidable foe was still ahead of me: ADULTHOOD..
During those glory days life was easy, I was a college kid. I had limited responsibilities; school, work as a personal trainer, and working out – not a hard life for maintaining a low percentage of body fat. The real test doesn’t come until later when you’re in the real world, with real responsibilities; mortgage, health insurance, a family – not being the number one priority anymore! Now this is a test, and it was a test I failed – miserably!
After college I slowly gained weight, not huge amounts, 8-10 pounds per year. I was still exercising, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t eating too terribly healthy – not bad, but not good enough to prevent weight gain. So what did I do? Like any sensible adult, I ignored it. I rationalized it. In fact I did some scary rationalization, because I knew enough to do it (getting my degree in exercise physiology).
“I’m in a bulking phase,” I said to myself (as an aside- every meathead on the planet, and I am a meathead deep down 😉 has said this at some point when they’re getting fat, and trying to justify it. Research tells us that most meat heads go through this experience approximately 1.5 times during their lives, before they actually stop kidding themselves, haha).
“I can lose the weight whenever I want; I’m just not ready now.”
“I’m fueling my metabolism,” as if it were some high octane engine that needed fueling.
I can go down the list, you get the point. I was pretty good at fooling myself – and I knew it! I just didn’t want to admit. Couple that great ability to rationalize, with starting AFS and all the things that go along with starting a business and it was a recipe for disaster, with ranch drizzled on top!
I was fat, I knew it. Slowly the guilt and loathing started to kick in. The hypocrisy of being a fitness professional for a living, helping people lose weight, but not being able to help myself. But those were just thoughts – I wasn’t ready for any action yet.
Two things catalyzed my action, and I can remember both of these instances vividly.
First, a good friend and business associate of mine (who I trust and respect greatly) said to me: “your weight is affecting business, and it will continue to until you lose weight.” I can still remember the spot we were standing in. It was a punch to the gut – but right on the money. Like most good friends, he told me what I needed to hear not what I wanted to hear.
Second, was a moment in (A2 Fitness Director) Jared’s office; I hopped on the scale, set it to 200 and started to nudge over the 1lb weight increment. 247, 248, 249 – “249.5, I exclaimed.” To which Jared retorted (jumping from his chair) “No WAY! That was at least 250, if not more!” I shuffled out before he could get me back on the scale, but he was right; I still didn’t want to face it.
Truth is, I went back later that night after we closed and saw the real number… 263! Finally I faced it, and now I was ready – something had to change, in a big way, and in a hurry!
This is where I’ll leave you for now; me at a fat, bulky, metabolism revved up 263. I was right back where I started with my weight, but I was mentally ready to turn things around. Stay tuned next week, in the second half of this blog I’ll tell you about the real life strategies I used to lose over 80 pounds of fat and keep it off!