See that cat up there? Yeah. The jolly looking one on the left with a few dozen extra pounds. That’s how I was rolling back in 2018. I thought I was hilarious standing in front of that sign at M.D. Anderson mocking it while I polluted my lungs. I had also been awake for 40+ hours snorting adderall and was probably drunk and stoned. Clearly obesity is only part of this story.
That’s also me on the right. I no longer smoke or do any type of drugs. I workout at least three times a week and watch what I put into my body very carefully. I have got to be the only person on planet earth who loses weight when I quit doing drugs but it is what it is. As any dietician or personal trainer will point out getting fit requires heavy changes to ones lifestyle.
Anyways, I want to use myself as an example of what inner transformation actually looks like. In classic Hermetic fashion I am a living testament to the old adage “as within, so without.” Just think of 12 steppers who carry chips with them as an outward expression of an inward desire. Everything I am today is the direct result of me implementing spiritual principles in my life.
Don’t worry, I won’t beat you over the head with a Bible and I don’t personally care what you believe in. What matters the most, in this segment, is how it has felt to walk the path. How I feel after changing EVERYTHING I didn’t like about myself.
FATTY FROM WAY BACK
I love food. I love cognac and sprite. I really love getting Whataburger at 2am after I’ve been in a bar drinking and selling coke all night. With a pocket full of money and a belly full of liquor there’s nothing tastier than a Monterrey Melt and a chocolate malt shake.
See, I told you, fat is a lifestyle. It’s not just a few quick changes to our diets and the discipline it takes to get in the gym. No. It’s uprooting all the bad habits that have been formed over years of hitting that dopamine switch. That classic satisfaction of quelling the old phenomenon of craving. Until you find out what drives those behaviors there really isn’t much that can be done in the way of fixing it. You have to find out what FEELING you’re craving. Ask yourself: What triggers in my mind when I take that first bite? What reward am I looking for?
Me? Oh I’m Cartman in the episode where he goes on the Maury Povich Show. “I DO WHAT I WANT.” I mean, didn’t go to school because I was smarter than them and didn’t need validation. I smoked blunt after blunt in the parking lot when I did go before they kicked me out for fighting. I sold drugs out of my parents house and did everything I could to cause mayhem.
It’s all nonsense from there. I used every form of manipulation and lie imaginable to keep doing whatever I wanted. It was never about any childhood trauma or any of the pre-packaged lies I offered up. It came down to me simply not wanting others to point out what was wrong with me or where I needed improvement. I damn sure didn’t want to change. I mean, if I wanted to eat chocolate chip cookies with peanut butter at 4 in the morning that’s what I was going to do. Excuse me, I have blunts to smoke.
The crazy thing is I lived this way well into my 30’s. My weight climbed up to 277 pounds. At 5’11” it’s not all that attractive I promise. I would wheeze when I walked up and down ladders. I took as many smoke breaks as possible because I needed to sit down and rest. I was in a constant state of depression which I attempted to drink away every night. I became more and more violent day in and day out. Not just to my customers but to my ‘loved ones’ as well. Simple assaults turned into domestic violence and eventually grew into aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
GROW THROUGH WHAT YOU GO THROUGH
Around October of 2019 I was in the North Tower of Dallas County jail awaiting trial. I’d love to tell you I was terrified but jail was an old hat to me at this point. I knew the ropes, the players, the rules, everything. Well, the problem with having nothing left to fear from an institution means you probably belong there. Most normal people can’t handle a weekend in that environment and I did mine like a proper convict; I slept until my attorney showed up to discuss a course of action. After my attorney told me I was royally screwed I went back to sleep for several more day.
My anger kept me company for those first few nights. My ex-girlfriend, and my co defendant were living in my home while I was primed to take the fall and rot in prison. I kept hearing her call me a “FAT M@THER F&CKER” over and over again in my mind. (Narcissists who know how self conscious you can be use insecurities as a thumbscrew to remind you how ‘lucky’ you are to have them even pay attention to you) I slept with the image of those two going to town on each other in my bed while she blamed my obesity.
Then it clicked. I had channeled my rage into violent acts because I was projecting my insecurities outward. I was giving real estate to others in my head and letting them live there rent free. What if I took that same energy and allowed it to transform me? Why let others decide how I feel when it is completely within my power to change my state?
Without any further hesitation I started doing burpees. Sure there were plenty of negative people around me, it was jail, but I didn’t let their ridicules interfere with my workout. I started pushing harder. I cut bread and sweets out of my diet completely. (Anyone who has ever been to Dallas county knows what a sacrifice that is) By the time I went open plea before the judge I wasn’t even recognizable by my travel card. I hit TDCJ- Texas prison- weighing in at 174 pounds.
Coming home was amazing. Friends and family I had known my entire life didn’t even recognize me. I felt completely different because I was completely different. Instead of that first pack of cigarettes I bought a gym membership. That first bottle whiskey became a tub of protein supplement. Meditation and prayer replaced the drugs and I went to Church instead of the club. Writing became my way of coping with the conflicts inside and I haven’t felt the need to punch anyone in the face.
I recently read an article where a patient shares something his doctor told him in passing. The advice was a simple quip I offer to anyone genuinely seeking to get healthy. “Nothing tastes as good as being fit feels.” It’s not the body we want, it’s not the success, it’s the feeling we think we’ll get from being in shape. We want the reward.
Why not reward yourself and start today.