It’s been an exciting week for me, because I finally hit the 160lbs I’d been aiming for for the last two years. Now I’m here, I realise I’ve still got some work to do, and my target weight has shifted a bit now I’m here – but when I started out, at 290lbs, it seemed like an impossible dream, so to finally reach it was very, very exciting. If anyone wants to send me streamers and a party hat, I could really use them. Also cake. Always send cake.
It did make me think, though, how little the scales relate to what goes on in the mirror – especially if you’re aiming to improve your body composition, rather than just losing weight. On the 28th February this year, when I went “Round Two” on the whole programme thing, I remembered how hard it was to stay focused when I was fixated purely on lowering that number at any cost. I knew that there had been times where I’d felt like my body was different – better, even – but I was so disappointed that the pounds didn’t seem to be dropping that I’d end up getting back into bad habits and chowing down on my body weight in pizza.
In case we’re not clear on that, that’s the wrong thing to do.
So, in a moment of despair, or something like it – this time, I took a photo of myself in my pants. At 220lbs.
I have to say, that’s served me well. I then took a photo around every month between then and now… And here’s what that looks like. I have no idea why it’s coming out slightly yellow on here – but you get the idea:
That’s eight months of change in eight photos.
Now, my reasons for posting this are pretty varied. They’re not just to show off – although needless to say, I’m pleased with the results so far, and I feel a whole lot better in my skivvies now than I did when I took that first photo. That said, I’m also fully aware that I’m probably somewhat narrowing my market on the man front by exposing myself on the internet. So be it. I have a few points to make.
Firstly – let’s talk about the photos second and third from the right. Between those two photos, I hadn’t lost any weight. At all. I’d gained muscle, and I’d lost fat – but as far as my bathroom scales were concerned, I had made absolutely no progress whatsoever. That’s why the scales really, really, really don’t matter. The change in my body shape tells the story for itself – I lost a significant amount of belly fat, which, as far as I’m concerned, is like discovering the Holy Grail.
That’s right guys: I am the Indiana Jones of weight loss. ‘Scuse me while I go rescue my hat.
Secondly – patience really is a virtue with this. It might look like a significant change now, but every day I’d go work out, and then the next morning check myself out in the mirror expecting a huge, immediate difference. That just doesn’t happen. Each of these pictures was taken around a month apart – but on a day-to-day basis, I wasn’t really noticing a difference. You have to give your body time to change, and trust in the process – because change does happen, as long as you give it time.
And finally – you can see, I’m not perfect now. Far, from it. My stomach still needs work, and I’m pretty sure there’s a map of the London Underground etched out in my stretch marks. As much as I’ve had a slight fear of putting these photos out there, I outright refuse to photoshop or adjust them in any way, because I think it’s important that we stay realistic here. When you look in magazines and spot celebrity weight loss stories, where they go from a ‘flabby mess’ to a perfect photoshopped bikini model, that’s another example of being sold an unrealistic expectation . I know I say I’d like to look like Beyonce, but you and I both know that’s not really going to happen.
And that’s the point I’m making here. You might be under the impression that losing weight will make you perfect. It won’t.
Above everything else, this whole journey is about self-acceptance, not weight loss. And yes, it’s easier to accept my flaws now I’ve lost the weight – but that’s because I’m able to see them as a pretty reasonable trade-off for my much-improved health and fitness levels that have reduced my risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease, and will probably mean I live longer. All of which are things I count as a win, personally.
But tere are so many things that can disillusion you if you set out to lose weight and you don’t come out the other end totally perfect. Stretch marks, shrinking boobs, those bits of cellulite that just won’t go… Our whole culture – the diet industry being just one part of it – is targeted at achieving total perfection, and tells us that we’re failures if we don’t quite reach it . That’s wrong.
Don’t get me wrong – I am very, very happy with what I’ve achieved. I’ve got swagger now, apparently, although I’m not quite sure what exactly that is. And clothed, I look awesome. I’m happy. But far more important than that, for me, has been the fact that I can now accept my faults and see myself as pretty awesome regardless. I can improve some bits, certainly – but now, I’m doing it for my health more than ever.
And so, again, I say – emphatically – it’s not just about weight loss . Learning to be happy with yourself, even though you’re not perfect, is far more important – and I’d wager more satisfying – than actually attaining perfection. And that’s why I’m now on the internet… In my pants.