Archive for the 'Personal appearance' 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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Bearded wet-cast blues

September 28, 2010

Andrew Hicks

Life with crutches isn’t just about the mobility. Equally limiting is the fact that you can’t really transport anything from points A to B. I made my way out to my mom’s deck just now with notepad tucked into my waistband, pencil (#2, I assume) in my right pocket, can of soda in left pocket, sunglasses hanging from the neck of my T-shirt and keys in my teeth. I wanted to bring the baby, but he’s just too darn big to fit in any of my pockets or tuck-away spots.

Tiffany drove down on Saturday, and for the first time all week, both babies and both parents were under the same roof. I’d gotten to see Sarah a couple times earlier in the week, but I still really missed my little girl. When a kid’s that age, right around two, you can’t be away too long, lest you miss a major developmental milestone. I feel for those dads who are shipped out by the military or constantly travel for their jobs. They leave in the “mama/dada” phase then come back and the kid’s conjugating verbs*.

I also got in some much-needed quality time with Mrs. Hicks. We made a great weekend night out of a few warm camo-chic cans of Busch (it was What Was Around, alright?) and the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.” We have one imperative TV ritual, Tiffany and I, and it’s watching new episodes of SNL live with a drink or two. This will continue far into the future, no matter how bad the show gets. Loyalty to Lorne Michaels & Co. is in our blood.

The late Phil Hartman may actually have been the catalyst for our falling in love. The night I met her, Tiffany and I were laughing about Hartman’s Ed McMahon character, and I was like, “You should come over to my place. We can watch my Best of Phil Hartman DVD.” And she was like, “No, I have to get up early.” And I was like, “Come on, I just want to show you a couple funny things. We’re just friends hanging out.” And she was like, “Okay, but if you hurt me, I’ll kill you.” 3 1/2 years and two live births later, she still hasn’t killed me. I never thought that “friends hanging out” line would pay off. All thanks to Phil Hartman, whose wife did kill him. Which, all these years later, still really sucks.

Quick note – if you ever find yourself with a cast on your leg, feeling filthy because you can’t take a proper shower every day, taping a garbage bag over your cast is not (repeat, NOT!) a foolproof option. If even a small amount of water permeates your cast, the damp, cold, stuck-to-skin feeling lasts way longer than any sensation of cleanliness you’ll receive from said shower**. And that musty, soggy cast smell is way worse.

If you saw me at this leg*** of my recovery, you would likely reach the conclusion that I just don’t care about personal appearance. All I packed for this trip was like five old T-shirts I usually sleep in, two pairs of shorts and one pair of athletic pants. (Athletic! Ha!) I thought I’d be hiding out at my mom’s for a few days. Now it looks like I might be here for up to three weeks. Whoops.

Also, I haven’t shaved since the ankle break. The first few days, it was because I was doped up in the hospital. Then it became a conscious decision. I would use beard growth to mark the length of time since I had a “normal” existence. That beard’s pretty full-on now, and I have a whole list of reasons to defend it:

  • I’ve always hated shaving. It’s the most tedious four minutes of my day. Eight minutes if I also have to shave my legs and pits.
  • My dad and brother sport full beards, so it must have a genetic predetermination sort of component.
  • When else in my life will I be able to experiment with excess facial hair without worrying about loss of employment?
  • The crutches send a pretty strong You Should Stay Outta This Guy’s Way message. The beard really hammers it home.
  • Joaquin Phoenix. Nuff said.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Legos

Sarah plays with Legos

* = “I got game, you got game, he/she/it got game, we got game, they got game.” P.E. in full effect right now until the year 2000!

** = Yes, I said “said shower.” My word choice often leans toward that of an ubergoober^.

*** = I will neither confirm nor deny the intendedness of that pun.

^ = All people who say “ubergoober” want to think they invented the term. Well, you guys didn’t, and neither did I. Who actually did? No doubt, a majorextremeprofoundubergoober.