Archive for the 'Me as fat man' Category

Fat Andrew: The Third Decade

February 4, 2011

Andrew Hicks

When I got to college, I was in the heart of my isolated-loner stage. I had all kinds of free time and a 20-a-week meal plan at the dining hall. The only restriction was that I could only get two entrees per trip through the line. I could live with that. I ate my ass off. I wore sweatpants for like three years. No belts, no stepping on scales and a personal appearance and demeanor that cried out “purposefully unlayable.”

Red Flag #1 was when I realized I was too big to fit on the Batman ride at Six Flags. I’d waited with a buddy in hot summer weather for almost an hour for the front car, and when we finally got on, I couldn’t get the shoulder harness in reach of the seatbelt clasp. A grunting, straining employee threw her weight into trying to wedge me for almost a full minute while the next train behind us was stopped on the track, riders waiting while swinging their feet. The acne-faced ride operator had to press the button that released everyone’s restraints so I could do the Lardass Walk of Shame. That sucked.

Red Flag #2 was when I finally did step on a scale and saw it tip 300 pounds. I was already not happy with myself in general, which brought me shame and despair. Well, there’s no temporary cure for shame and despair quite like a few Big Macs. One night, after binging on something I don’t remember, a switch turned on in my brain, and I knew I was done eating bad food.

The next day, I cut out red meat, fried foods and processed desserts and made sure to walk at least a half-hour per day. I even remember ordering the fresh fruit platter when out with some friends one night at a Mexican restaurant. It cost the same as everyone else’s dinner, but it arrived on a side plate garnished with leaf lettuce and a plastic flag sticking up that said, “Hey, fatty! I ain’t NEVER gonna fill yo’ ass up!”

My resolve stuck with me long enough to lose almost 50 pounds, then I started to slip. And it was around this time, age 19 and 20, that I really realized I didn’t just have to write down what I thought was funny. I could say it, too, and people would laugh. Some people even liked it when I talked serious.

I got a little self-esteem on my shoulders, made some enjoyable friendships and partied my ass off. Alcohol is chock full of empty calories, but I also lived in a college town that delivered pizza until 3 am. The Texaco was right up the street, offering chocolate pies and as much nacho cheese as you could fit on a plastic tray. Oh, and Mountain Dew slushees. Those were incredible.

I’d put every ounce of those 50 pounds back on by the time I joined Bally’s Total Fitness in February, 2001. My package came with two free personal-training sessions. Kurt, the personal trainer, looked like The Rock if he was white, 5’8″ and couldn’t raise the one eyebrow. What Kurt could raise was the entire stack of weights on the pectoral fly, and he’d make a show out of inviting the nearest hot girl in the gym to push against the top of the stack of weights with all her might, throw all her weight into it, then he’d lift all that. While he was keeping a half-eye on me incorrectly doing lunges across the exercise floor.

Kurt used to put me on this stairmaster/lunge combo machine, crank the resistance up to 20, then walk away while I surreptiously pushed the down button to get the resistance back to 1. And this was like seven years after my last gym class. I wished you could get the free personal trainer sessions after you’d been going to the gym for a few months and had built up a little tolerance and strength.

I kept going to the gym and working out for the next seven years, off and on. More on than off. I dropped an easy 30 pounds at firsst, even though I was eating whatever I wanted to and chasing it with gallons of beer. I’d go to the gym, lose a little weight, stop going and gain it back, but I never got close to hitting 300 again.

On two later occasions — the fall of 2004 and the late-summer of 2005 — I went back to the no red meat/fried food/desserts lifestyle. Each time, I thought it was a permanent change that would stick with me. Each time, I was wrong. In spring 2009, I dropped a bunch of weight because I lost my appetite for months due to depression. People would compliment me on the weight loss, and I’d tell them I wasn’t on a diet or working out. They’d say, “Whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it.” I didn’t usually tell them what I was doing was hating myself and hating life in general.

These days, I’m happy, I eat healthy sometimes, I eat crappy most of the time, and I’ve been recovering from a broken ankle since September. I’m ready to be physical. I’m itching for nice weather and talking walks and playing outside with kids. The best news is, I don’t drink anymore, and I have a beautiful wife who thinks I’m beautiful. I’ve got a handful of lingering problems with self-image, but they don’t seem tied into a weird food-based shame cycle.

Enough of this. I’m gonna go make dinner now. Probably nothing healthy.

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

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My fat, lazy childhood

February 3, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I was ahead of the curve, a major trendsetter. By which I mean, I was fat before America was.

I spent my first handful of years as a skinny kid, but there’s a picture of little school-age me looking all groggy and sugar-shocked, with a sucker in his mouth and the cookie jar to his left freshly raided. Early episodes like this formed the genesis of an addictive personality with an only marginal sense of moderation.

By fifth grade or so, I was a little husky kid. I think my first attempt at a diet was the summer I was 11. I was raised by a single mom who worked, so my brother Matt and I spent all our weekdays at a summer day camp. I remember packing my lunches and counting calories on my baggies of Teddy Grahams and pretzels and lunchmeat sandwiches. I was already one of those fat kids who’d pig out on diet soda, too.

The diets I’d go on were pretty much starvation diets like that — a thousand calories a day until I’d go crazy and binge out. I never lost more than 15 pounds. I’d spend more time off diets than on, and both parents would indulge me and Matt (who was skinny as a rail until well past his teenage years) in the inexpensive excesses of drive-thru fast food, delivery pizza and buffets.

My childhood involved a lot of trips to the park and Six Flags, baseball in the backyard and bike riding through the neighborhood. When adolescence set in, and self-esteem problems and worry problems, my lifestyle got more reclusive and lethargic. We had a small family, three people, and we kept to ourselves. Lots of movie watching and mom working at home and me crudely drawing comic strips and writing “Batman” fanfic stories (a good decade before I ever heard the word “fanfic”).

Once I reached my mid-teen years, I was physically so far out of the loop that gym class was often humiliating. I liked that the teacher would put us through a strict ritual of stretches, jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups and laps, though I often hated it at the time. I really hated the Presidential Fitness Test, because all I could ever really qualify on was the stretching stuff. I’ve never done a pull-up in my life; I hope to before I die.

I didn’t want to join any sports teams because the jocky kids seemed so much more bold and put-together than I did. And because I was lazy and afraid of everything. Also, I knew you had to take group showers, and there was no way in hell I would’ve let all the buff kids see me naked, soaping up.

So, more pizza nights at home, compulsive TV watching, homework and personal writing. I did manage to drop something like 25 pounds before my junior year, which brought me back under the 200 mark and saw me accomplishing the previously unattainable feat of running the mile in under ten minutes. I beat the kid with the baboon heart by, like, a full lap.

But then my small Christian school closed down, and I spent senior year in public school with the misguided notion that I should keep my head down, write down all my funny stuff instead of sharing it with people, and basically stay at home as much as possible. For one glorious quarter, I got to school early for A-period honors world history and was then done with classes by like 11:30.

Every day, I’d walk past the guard at the gate, continue walking a mile home, and spend my afternoon watching sitcom reruns on cable and binging on Doritos and day-old Hostess products. I had the house to myself for hours, I could take naps at will, and I didn’t have to endure the humiliation of voluntarily excluding myself from social activity in the lunchroom.

Oh boy, that’s when I truly got fat. In another year and a half, I weighed myself on some pseudo-classy novelty scale at Sharper Image and saw the scale tip 300 pounds. It depressed me more than ever at a time when I felt like a super-freak isolated from my peers. But after wallowing for a few strange months, I finally got motivated to do something.

TO BE CONTINUED

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Silas is awake, and he's grabbin'.