Growing Up Fat.

Nike Fat Kid Ad

Picture taken from the Nike “Find Your Greatness” ad campaign

When I was a kid, I was pretty fat.  I wore unflattering clothing that was loose and baggy, and I didn’t have a lot of friends or much self confidence.  My breasts jiggled while riding the school bus, and I would break into a sweat by simply tying my shoes on a warm summer day.  Life was a cruel hearted bitch, I liked being alone, and food was my best friend.  Food and masturbation.

Getting Fat.

Now it wasn’t always this way.  I was a fairly popular little dude in my elementary days, and rather athletic.  I played baseball and soccer at my school, I ate somewhat healthy, and I had a lot of friends and female admirers.  Life was good, but eventually my mother became pregnant with my soon to be little-brother, and I was told that it would be rough schedule-wise to continue with sports.  I took this an an open invitation to watch a lot more television.

After my brother was born, my mother went back to work, and they would drop him off at his aunt’s house, so I was basically home alone during my summer vacations.  I didn’t hate being alone, but at the same time, it could become very boring.  Growing up in the country, all of my friends from school lived pretty far away, and there really wasn’t anything to do to stay entertained.  Eventually I’d find myself sitting on the floor in front of the television, watching MTV while eating ice cream from the tub with an over-sized tablespoon, because as I figured, why the fuck not?  Of course in no time at all, I began to notice subtle changes, and that things were different.  My clothes started to feel tighter, and my energy seemed to decline.  I became short of breath whenever performing even simple tasks, like walking up and down the stairs, or picking up sticks in the yard.  Simply put, I was getting fat.  I also noticed that kids at school were starting to treat me differently as well.

Kids are Dicks.

Now schools are very much microcosms of society, complete with classes, groups, and all of that sociological bullshit.  I still had a sense of humor and could make people laugh, but it didn’t really take long for me to see my group of friends waning.  I’ll never forget the day that I was walking to class, and some kid that I didn’t even know came up to me and punched me in the stomach.  I dropped all of my books and fell, looking up at him with a confused look on my face, curious to why this might have happened.  “You’re fat” was all he could seem to retort.  Through the hallway, the other kids shuffled passed, not so much as even looking down at me.  Welcome to the fifth grade.

I spent the next six years or so trying to fly under the radar, making sure not to attract too much attention.  I found it easier to function as a fat kid, by withdrawing myself from everybody else, and people typically left me alone, or made it a point to just avoid me completely.  Occasionally I’d get a taunt in the gym locker room while changing (hey bitch tits!), or someone would throw an empty soda can at the back of my head from a moving school bus, but all in all I compartmentalized it, let it go, and was generally left alone.  I didn’t have a girlfriend, and maybe but a handful of friends, so after school I would retreat to my bedroom with movies from the video store or a pile of books, and a bag of McDonald’s, grudgingly anticipating another school day.  This was pretty much my routine for several years, and most attempts to change my lifestyle or lose weight failed miserably.

Senior Year.

A funny thing happened my senior year in high school.  Man, I really wanted to get laid, and in that sense, I was pretty much the same as any other high school kid.  Sex was basically all that I thought about; sex was the only thing on television, seemingly the meaning behind every song on the radio, and all of my free time was preoccupied by thinking about it.  I realized the whole “being overweight” thing was cramping my game, and the hate that I had for what I had become, and the motivation I had to be somebody else, finally game me that final push to make some positive changes in my life.

My parents didn’t really eat that healthy, so at first I’d try to eat only half as much as I was accustomed to, and eventually I skipped family dinners altogether, and I would make salads and other lighter dishes.  I started going for long walks after school, that eventually turned into long jogs.  When I first started running, people passing would honk or yell heckles, but I persisted.  I would think about a lot of things while running; my detachment from the world I lived in, and the person that I aspired to be.  Mostly I thought about how I was tired of living the way that I had.  I felt a great deal of empowerment after I lost the first ten pounds, and it all started to became a reality.  I stuck with it, and by only a few months after graduation, I had lost nearly a hundred pounds.  Hell, I even looked years younger.  My self esteem was incredible, and I realized I was also a lot more confident talking to women.

A New Eric.

I did go through this weird phase, where I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror, and it was like a stranger was looking back at me.  I did of course eventually meet a girl, and yes, I lost my virginity, and as time passed, a majority of my psychosomatic social awkwardness had melted away.  I continued on with my adult life, and it was almost as if it all never happened.  Most of my friends today don’t even know that at one point I was overweight, since it’s been nearly twelve years.  I’ve somewhat blocked it out myself, and the whole period is somewhat under almost a haze.  It was a time of introverted reflection and thought.  Even now, most might label me a quiet guy, or even miscategorize it as being indifferent, but it’s mostly from my experiences while growing up of internalizing everything, mostly out of necessity.

Looking back, sometimes I wonder if life would have been easier if I hadn’t been fat.  In all honestly, probably yes.  But it changed the way that I see myself, and more importantly, how I see other people.  I have been told more than once by women I have dated “If I had known you back when you were overweight, I would have dated you.”  That is a sweet thing to say, but in reality it is false.  I understand this, and I guess human beings are just shallow people, whether we want to be or not.  I guess the main thing that I take from this experience, is to not get stuck in a rut.  It’s easy to dig a hole, but sometimes harder to climb out of it, and you can’t expect anyone to help you.  That, and that McDonald’s is the devil.

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