This I Believe

Robert - Fayetteville, New York
Entered on January 23, 2007

I believe that I am a happier person today because I am so much less of a person than I used to be.

10 years ago I was in a state of constant denial. I denied that I was grossly overweight. I denied that my 50” waist wasn’t normal. I even denied the reflection I saw in the mirror.

One day, one moment when clarity cut through the blurred haze that I saw myself through changed the course of my life forever. When I walked up to my 2nd story apartment, just having smoked a cigarette, I suddenly realized that climbing 14 steps had winded me to the point where I had to stop and catch my breath and the sound of my laboured breath thundered in my ears like a raging storm.

For the first time in years I looked down and saw myself, really saw myself. I looked down and could not see my waist, or my legs, or even my feet, not even the tips of my toes. I walked into the bathroom and took my shirt off, something I only did when taking a shower, and looked at myself in the mirror. My gut hung over my pants, my arms could not hang straight for all the blubber I carried with me, and my pale skin rippled and jiggled with every movement or shifting of my feet.

I decided in that second, staring in anger and disgust at myself and what I had become, that I would change my life. I didn’t know how long it would take, but I didn’t care. Late that night, as I was ready for bed, I found every cigarette I had in the house and took them all into the bathroom. I broke every single one in half and tossed it into the toilet save for one. I saved one cigarette, my last. I went outside and smoked it to the absolute end of the tobacco and when I crushed it out on the concrete, I crushed everything it represented with it.

The next day I went to the local Y and listened to a personal trainer explain exercise and weight lose strategies to me as I started in fear at the strange machines and sweaty people.

That first workout was an embarrassment; I couldn’t maintain level 1 on the stairmaster for more than 7 minutes. But I came back the next day and kept coming back.

In less than 2 years I lost over 170lbs. Today I can run with my children, go on bike rides with them, hike mountains in the Adirondacks, play games outside, and other activities that I never could have done without losing the weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

So when I say that fitness is important to me and that I am a happier person because of it, it’s not out of vanity or a way to be a little more attractive to the opposite sex- it’s out of an unrelenting devotion to never go back to the half-life I was living when I was trapped within my own body and could not do the simple things that bring the greatest joy.