This is me a year ago.
That is not a thick coat. In fact, it is a thin trench coat. All of the padding you see is me. At the time, I weighed 230 pounds. My knees ached all of the time. I couldn’t climb stairs without huffing and puffing, relied on albuterol to keep me breathing easy, and the last thing I thought about was physical exercise. I was more likely to be found on the couch than in the gym, I slept endlessly, and candy was a mainstay.
Now, this is me in high school.
I honestly don’t know what caused me to get that way. Back in high school, I weighed around 130 pounds. I was healthy. Due to some arthritic issues, my knees did hurt all the time, but it didn’t slow me down at all. I rode horses. I walked three miles a day. I worked on a farm. But slowly, over time, things started to change. If I felt uncomfortable, or scared, or even just really, really lonely, I ate. I ate to numb the pain away in the same way that others drink alcohol.
For four or five years I regret to say I was a total and complete fatass. I didn’t care what I looked like — or at least that’s what I told myself. I felt fine. I didn’t need to lose weight, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the nagging of my doctor, or the slow but steady upward creeping of the scale. I told myself that right up until about six months ago, when I met this game.
I don’t know how many of you have played In the Groove before, but for someone who’s horrendously out of shape, it’s more than tough: It’s nearly impossible. For about three months I resisted playing at all. That changed about mid-December, at a gathering at a friend’s house, a friend who happened to own a machine. I don’t remember who convinced me I should play, but I took them at their word, mostly so I would stop being asked.
It was the best decision I ever made, because I discovered I wasn’t half-bad at it. Sure, the song I started off on was novice-level difficulty — a 4 out of 18, with a very slow tempo and not that many steps — but over the course of that weekend, I’d worked all the way up to a 6. It was hard, sure. I was sweating and my knees hurt while I played. But I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop until I left two days later on a Sunday afternoon.
The journey didn’t stop there. Every weekend I got back, I got a little better. I started to notice muscle definition in my legs. I noticed that my legs didn’t ache as much and although I still do and will probably always have to use albuterol, the amount of pain was continuously decreasing as I transitioned from using albuterol constantly to just using it before exercise.
The big changes, though, took even longer. Before I knew it, my diet was changing, and without my thinking about losing weight; in fact, wanting to get in shape wasn’t involved until several months in. But pretty soon, out went the potato chips and in went the seared salmon. I started foregoing ice cream for broccoli and peanut butter for cookies. I started to feel better. My hair got shinier, I could walk five miles without breaking a sweat, and my skin cleared. Soon after that, I returned to the gym. The focus this entire time wasn’t on losing weight. The focus was on getting better at ITG.
It’s now eight months later, and although I have had my moments of slippage, I’ve lost nearly 45 pounds. I’ve gained tons of self confidence, a lot of new friends, and a few new muscles. I’m busier now that school has started, but I still go to the gym to keep my stamina up and also to become a fitter, healthier person. My weight is around 185 pounds. I enjoy the changes I’ve made to my body, and I’m comfortable now saying I want to lose weight.
Although not starting with a weight loss mindset helped me initiate the battle, it’s time to win the war.