Sunday, February 22, 2009

I can see clearly now...

I've had an interesting past few weeks. Last week, I reached a new milestone. I'm down 85 pounds since I made a decision to get fit, and 60 pounds since I started working with my trainer. That's pretty cool. But it is in fact not this new milestone that I have found most exciting. In the past few weeks, I've had an unusual number of people approach me asking me if I was losing weight, working out, etc. At work, at the gym, in my personal life -- I've had a lot of people pull me aside to tell me that I look fantastic, that I seem really "radiant", and most interestingly, that I'm "shrinking."

Remember -- I look at myself every day. So, I don't necessarily see it.
But I see it now.
And it didn't really see the difference until yesterday.

I was sitting at C5 -- a wonderful restaurant on the top floor of the Royal Ontario Museum, in the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal overlooking downtown Toronto. I was with three friends (Tony, Liza and Alison) having an afternoon champagne tea to celebrate Liza's milestone birthday. We had a wonderful, relaxing meal -- quiche, petit-fours with foie gras, caviar, and lobster, champagne, and of course, tea. We had been sitting there for close to three hours, when Alison and Liza excused themselves to visit the ladies' room, and Tony and I remained at the table. I had just taken out my credit card to pay the bill, when I inadvertently pulled out my drivers' license. I've not looked at my license in a long time, but I saw it. Right then, and there. I looked at Tony and said, "I see it now. Holy shit, I'm shrinking!"

A lot of people have told me that they can really see my weight loss in my face. Seeing it elsewhere is a bit more difficult, since I'm still wearing the same clothes, and everything still fits really big. I see my progress a bit more when I'm at the gym -- wearing smaller t-shirts, and enjoying the view of my legs... let's just say that I've got a closet full of clothes that formerly did not fit -- and now they do. But again, I look at myself (with the most critical of all eyes) each and every day. But I never really noticed the difference in my face, again, until yesterday.

So, I decided to take a look through my pictures on the computer ('cause I don't have any real photographs anymore), and realized that they were difficult to come by. I've never really enjoyed having my picture taken. I never really wanted to have any sort of official 'documentation' of just how big I really was. I have an idea of what my heaviest weight was (about 100 pounds more than I weigh now), but I never documented it. Documenting or recording this information would have been the ultimate exercise in vulnerability -- admitting that I had a problem. It's the same idea as I've been taught about goal setting: if you write it down, you're more likely to achieve it, because it becomes real. Writing down my weight, or taking a photograph would have made my weight, my sadness, my pain, more real than I was prepared for. And it already hurt too much. I didn't want it to hurt anymore. Sebastien has suggested several times that I take pictures so that I can chronicle my progress. I haven't done so, and I'm starting to realize that I regret it.

So, back to this new phenomenon of people telling me how good I look. It was, at first, very uncomfortable. But now, I'm kind of starting to like it. I've attracted the attention of others for most of my life -- negative attention. People think they're being subtle or discreet, but I went through many years of my life seeing people make faces, sensing that people were whispering comments, or more often than I care to remember, actually hearing people insult me. Sometimes even to my face. So, attention hasn't been in any way comfortable -- so much so that even when people were taking the time to tell me something good (positive feedback at work, encouragement, even a simple thank you), I recoiled in discomfort because any sort of attention reminded me of how much it hurt to be the focus of attention -- and not the good type of attention.

Now that people are giving me 'good' attention, I've had to adjust and get used to it. I even noticed that when Sebastien was giving me praise or feedback when we're training, that I quickly laugh it off or change the subject -- because just as much as I felt vulnerable getting the negative attention, I feel equally exposed getting the good stuff, too. Saying yes to the question, "Chris, are you losing weight?" still requires me to acknowledge that I have a problem and that I need help. But I'm at a point where admitting both is something that I'm almost completely comfortable with. And as I said, I'm getting used to it. I'm learning how to respond with a smile and say "Thank you." I'm learning to engage people in honest conversation about what I'm doing as opposed to trying to quickly change the subject and think to myself "Mind your own friggin' business." In many ways, starting this blog was the easiest way for me to control the type of attention that I anticipated would accompany me on this journey. Instead of having to answer the questions from curious (and genuinely caring) people, and actually admit that I was struggling and needed help (not something I do well at all), I took advantage of this technology to control the ways in which I communicated with those who are closest to me about the life-changing journey I've been on. Of course, over time, I've made my blog public, and nowadays, instead of dodging the question about losing weight, I'll sit people down, talk to them about what I'm doing, teach them some new fact about nutrition or exercise, and even show them my kickboxing video on the blog. So, I've done a bit of a 180-degree turn. And it feels good.

My license picture was taken in September 2007, when I was easily at my heaviest. Considering I've lost 85 pounds since December 2007, I was probably closer to 100 pounds heavier in September of that year. In July 2008, I had just made the decision to work with Sebastien -- that was 60 pounds ago. In September 2008, I had commissioned a former student to take some headshots for me (for my work) -- the first time in a very long time I ever willingly allowed someone to take pictures of me. It was an hour-long photo shoot and one of the most unusual things I've ever done. And finally February 2009 marks my 60/85/100 moment -- when I feel like I've turned a corner and am far enough down a path that I will never ever turn back.

So, I finally see the difference. Can you???

Kia Kaha.
Stay Strong.