On loving yourself: let's talk skin
Saturday, August 31, 2019
I'm sorry there was no blog last Sunday. It was the day before the start of classes and I was going quietly crazy with all the things that had to be done. This week I'll be away on Sunday so I'm writing the blog a day early.
I was having breakfast in a diner with my friend a week ago. Readers of my blog know that I'm currently the lightest I've been in 20 years and my friend started intermittent fasting himself after seeing what it is doing for me (an aside: my wife, my wife's friend, and my wife's sister have all done the same thing; we have a little movement here). My friend now reports that he's the lightest that he's been in at least 10 years.
Anyway, my friend and I are at breakfast and he says to me, "I'm starting to get loose skin. Will it shrink?"
I thought about it. I'm 63 years old and at my heaviest I was 308 pounds. I'm currently 226 and falling (two more pounds gone this week). I have lots of loose skin. My friend will be 80 on his next birthday so his skin is that much less elastic, so ….
"Probably not" I said.
My friend thought about that for a minute and then he said "Oh well, I don't hate the loose skin as much as the fat."
But why should we hate any of it? All my life I feel like people have been telling me I wasn't good enough because of my appearance. When I was a young man there were Calvin Klein underwear ads that told me I should be totally hairless with six-pack abs. I was kind of hairy and my six-pack abs were under a layer of fat.
Over the course of my life I've gained and lost weight enough times to notice a pattern: when I'm lighter people's eyes meet mine and some sort of human connection is made. When I'm fat those same eyes just slide over me to the next person as if I have no worth.
And I realize that it is worse for women. Here in the USA where I grew up, society - largely through the media - hammers women with the message that the only thing about them that matters is their appearance. It is a sick message and it contributes to low self-esteem, eating disorders, etc.
Men don't get that message to nearly the same extent, but we do get it and it's no good for us either.
My self-worth is not determined by my appearance. Neither is yours. Intellectually I know that, but emotionally is another thing. They've done a good job of getting inside my head and brainwashing me. I still stand in front of the mirror and wish it were possible to do home skin removal with a pair of scissors and some super glue.
The media still taunts me: "Here is actress X and it's only been 3 months since she had her baby and look how amazing she looks in her bikini." Well she does look amazing and I don't look that way, but I'm still worth something. (And let's face it: as a 63 year old hairy man, I'd look pretty silly in that bikini.)
I'm going to continue to struggle with my demons. I am so thankful for my loving wife. When I first started to obsess about the fact that even at my goal weight I wasn't going to look like an underwear model, I told her, "You have the choice of living with the Michelin man or a shar pei" (google them if you don't know what they look like.) My wife gave me a hug and said, "I've always loved shar peis."
The other day I watched an inspirational video called "Dellen Garcia 3 year Natural Transformation." It caught my attention because this man went from 305 pounds to 170 which is essentially my journey. Also, he is only 22 years old, so I thought "If anybody's skin is going to snap back, it will be this guy's." But no, it didn't. I encourage you to watch the video. Dellen looks great, but he's definitely got a lot of loose skin around the middle. But instead trying to hide it, he almost seems to celebrate it as a badge of all the progress he made.
I want that attitude. Dellen looks great, but so do I. So do you. That you are here on SparkPeople means that you are trying to be the healthiest you that you can be. I applaud you and I'll take a bow myself.