Hooray! I’m Obese!

I know it is not news you expect to see someone pleased about, but I am happy to be obese. The thing is, I’ve entered obesity from the other end – I’m no longer “morbidly obese”.

As you can see from the ever-so-cute Mii in the picture above, my needle is no longer pinned up off the chart. I’ve dropped below 35 on the BMI scale, and have therefor officially entered that land that 70% of Americans occupy.

In order to get to the next level, and be merely overweight (Hooray, I’m fat!) I need to get below a BMI of 30, which if my calculation are right, based on my height of six feet, would require me to weigh less than 214 pounds. Since cracking the obesity barrier last Sunday, I’ve lost a few more pounds putting me this morning at 245.3 pounds. And yes, the tenths of a pound are important. Psychologically at least, I’d much rather be 245.3 than 245.6.

So I’ve got to lose another 35 pounds or so to achieve fatuosity. That sounds like a lot, partly because it is, but you have to remember that since the middle of July I’ve lost almost that amount, 34 pounds. Unfortunately, the second 30 pounds are harder than the first 30. After the first 30, your body metabolism starts to adjust to lower calorie intake and higher calorie output, and starts futzing with your internal carbeurator. Before you know it, the weight loss has slowed from a steady drop to a gentle decline.

This isn’t all bad, as you want to lose weight at a slow pace to increase the odds of keeping it off. From time to time I’ll level off in what I like to call a “fateau” where I get stuck on one number. So now, I try to mix things up a little to keep the trend downward at a satisfying rate – I mean, when you are tired and hungry, you’ve got to be able to convince yourself it is worth it.

That has fit in well with our Inca Trail training, as we’ve started adding some extra stuff. About every other day we walk up and down 10 floors in our high rise building, and twice now we’ve added hiking up to El Morro in our long hikes to La Puntilla. This new trail makes us climb (and descend) almost 270 feet over steep paths and steeper stone stairs. That last one I think is what kicked me off of the 250 fateau and got me trending downward again.

Of course, you need more goals that are closer at hand than “lose 35 pounds”. Currently, I have two smaller goals in my sights. By this weekend, I should be very close to 240, and able to have a “size down” day. That means I will be going through my closet and pulling out the shirts, shorts and tees that are now clownishly large on me. I’ll also be able to pull out of deep storage some smaller sizes that I will now be able to fit into. This kind of stuff is great for your sense of achievement.

The other goal is 232 pounds. That represents the lowest weight I’ve been at for at least 15, maybe 20 years.

When I first met Rita and I was still in a daze over my first wife’s death, I weighed 319 pounds. When we moved to Ecuador, I was still around 290. The increased exercise, time outdoors, and healthier food all enabled me to lose almost 60 pounds, and two February’s ago I was at 232 pounds.

Unfortunately, at that time we started getting company, which disrupted our routines, but that is just an excuse. Mostly what happened was that my own personal demons, led by survivor’s guilt, jumped on my back and I began to inflate once more.

Thanks to being married to a pretty wonderful woman, being able to retire from the 9 to 5 world and take up writing full time, and finally managing to come to some sort of grips on the guilt associated with selfishly continuing to live – and what’s worse – daring to be happy after the death of a loved one, I didn’t slide all the way back up the scale.

So you see, I’m happy to be obese because this is the second time I’ve had to come down through that barrier. This time, I feel like I am finally ready to continue the physical and dietary commitments, which are really the easy parts. More importantly, I feel like this time I am emotionally in the right place, and that is the hard part. The little guy that lives in my head and watches and judges everything I do has to feel like I deserve to be healthier and happier.

Getting healthy and fit is not just a matter of numbers, diets, and steps. You have to make an honest change in your heart and mind that you are going to change your life, because you want to change your life. Then and only then, you may be ready to take the difficult step and actually make – and continue – the changes.


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  • Jo Alice Mospan says:

    Congratulations! You are doing so well; proud of you. I know it’s hard. Keep up the good work.

  • Jean McCord says:

    This is great news–for you, and as an encouragement for others. I love your thoughtful postings and wish you all the best.

  • Robert Badgett says:

    Mr. Santos. I have really enjoyed your blog so far, but this one is even better in word-smithing. The phrase, “finally managing to come to some sort of grips on the guilt associated with selfishly continuing to live – and what’s worse – daring to be happy after the death of a loved one” puts it over the top for me. It is “up close and personal” for me. Thank you.

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