Now that I’ve lost the first one-hundred pounds I spent some time this week looking back at the first dozen YouTube videos that got me to this point. I am very glad that in the first few weeks of this journey I decided to do a video each week, rather than one a month which is what I had originally planned. The changes have been constant and noticeable. I swear in the last two months my face has been four different shapes.
Like I’ve said from the beginning I can’t pinpoint the moment I gave up on myself and convinced myself the body I had was going to give me the quality or quantity of life I wanted. I don’t know when I became okay with that but I do remember the exact moment I decided my entire life needed to change.
In my first blog post I talked about the day I got on a scale after avoiding one for more than ten years. Actually I got on two that day. First, I got on one that I bought at WalMart. It went up to 400 pounds so I thought I was good. I wasn’t. I ended up going to the dialysis unit at The Cape Breton Regional Hospital and getting on the in-floor scale they use to weight patients in wheelchairs. Standing there I felt like cargo being readied for shipment, an elephant wanting to fly economy. When the numbers came up on the screen my heart sank in my chest and my eyes watered. It printed me a little receipt with 460.2 pounds written on it. I walked back out to my car, huffing my way to the far end of the lot, and just dropped in to the seat.
I know the power of my own denial. When I don’t want to deal with a problem I can convince myself it just doesn’t exist. I knew, sitting there that I had the ability to ball that little receipt up and pretend I never found out the truth. It would bug me for a day or two and then be forgotten. I would move on and slip happily back into ignorance. But I didn’t. Something in me clicked and I knew I had to tell someone the truth right away because once it was out there I would have to deal with it.
I took my phone from my pocket and sent the same message to my mother, my brother, and my best friend: “Holy shit. I weigh 460 pounds.” If anyone would hold me accountable it would be these three. Denial was no longer an option, and for the record it was harder to send that text message than it was to talk about in on-air, online, or have my weight printed on the cover of The Cape Breton Post.
I started the car, put it in gear, and knew that all of this was just temporary. I would fix this life I had broken. I had no idea how and that was overwhelming. The idea of change – of changing everything – scared me to tears. I cried that night like I had lost a brother and in a way I had. I had lost the ignorance that allowed me to make the choices I was making, live the life I was living, and kill myself one bite at a time.
By the time I was on the phone that night with Dr. Chris Cobourn from the The Surgical Weight Loss Center the grief had passed. I didn’t know who that unhappy fat guy was anymore. I don’t know how he lived the way he did as long as he did. Now I was someone new with a pretty big task: to escape the 460 pound prison I was being held in.
As I look back at those first YouTube videos though there is something I want to say to myself, at the start of this journey. Maybe it’s something that could help you too, wherever you are in yours.
So I know this is a very Oprah/Dr. Phil thing to do but stay with me for a moment. If I could be there, in the car that day after I sent the text, not knowing what was next…this is what I would have said to myself.
A Letter to 460 Pound Jay from 360 Pound Jay
You aren’t happy, don’t try to convince yourself you are. You aren’t healthy, don’t try to convince yourself you are. You aren’t taking full of advantage of all the opportunities life sends your way. You know you aren’t. You’re lonely. It’s not because you’re alone or because you’re missing someone else. It’s because you miss being yourself.
You haven’t been as successful at hiding your size as you think you have. People notice 460 pounds, even if it’s constantly dressed in black. Your friends are your friends for a reason and it has nothing to do with your weight. You won’t lose them when you change. You will be a better friend for changing, and you’ll make many new friends in the process.
Don’t doubt your choice to share your story. You will be rewarded for that choice every day.
Look for fear in every choice you make. What you think is your personality has actually been shaped by fear. Make sure you are actually making your choices.
Dream big. Don’t set little goals for little victories. Set ambitious goals and be ambitious in your pursuit of them. You weigh 460 pounds. There are no safe bets. Your last heart beat could be tomorrow and you’re the type of guy who’s meant to die trying, not waiting for a pizza to be delivered.
So do this. Do all of this. Know there isn’t an end date. There isn’t a finish line. There is just a life that’s there to lived in a much better way. You’ve done it your way for a while and I’m telling you deserve better than that.
Trust me. You’ll be me before you know it and all of this won’t seem like such a big deal after all.