Friday, October 31, 2014

When a fat guy isn't a fat guy anymore!

     For those of you that didn’t already know, I work at a Harley-Davidson Dealership, and the other day a customer was asking me some questions about the Sportster 72 model he was interested in.  He asked a question that I can’t really remember anyone ever asking me, at least about a Sportster.  His was asking what the weight limit or load limit was for the motorcycle; basically how much weight can be safely loaded on the bike.  As much as I know about these bikes and that is one question I didn’t know the answer to so I called my buddy Mark, who is a salesman, over to see if he knew the answer.  As the three of us were talking the customer said he wanted to know because he was concerned that he and his wife might exceed that limit.

     Now before I go on let me describe this gentleman for you so you can have a mental picture of the situation.  If I had to guess he was probably in his mid to late 40s, somewhere between 5’7” and 5’9” and was quite large.  Now let me give you a little more detail, the majority of his weight was in his midsection “beer gut” if you will, while the rest of his body wasn’t in shape but wasn’t overly large either.  He reminded me of me quite a bit with how he was carrying his weight.  My friend Mark, who also has had a life long battle with his weight, currently is trying to rebound from his last up swing in his scale.  So if you were standing from a far and couldn’t hear the conversation you would see two larger men and one smaller man talking.  Now I really really hate having to describe and talk about other people solely based on their size, shape and weight, but I have to so you can understand the context of the story and the comment which the customer had made.

     Now back to the story, the customer stated he was around 300 pounds and that his wife was not to skinny herself and he was concerned that the bike would not be able to handle the two of them safely.  Mark says to the customer that he is a big guy and when he owned a Sportster, he didn’t have any issues with the bike handling him or when he had a passenger.  Mark stated to the customer that he shouldn’t worry about it; the motorcycle would handle him and his wife just fine.  That’s when I chimed in and said, I rode a Sportster for five years and it handled me with or without my wife no problem.  He turned to me and said “of course not.  A little guy like you wouldn’t have a problem.”  I immediately smiled, laughed and stated that I wasn’t always this small, and that I use to weigh over 300 pounds.  Mark also piped up and stated the same thing.  We had a laugh and Mark continued on with customer, answering all of his remaining questions. 

     It wasn’t till a little while later the impact of what happened really sunk in.  I am sure this is completely common among those that have lost a significant amount of weight, but I still see and think of me has a large person.   The majority of my life has been spent as an overweight or obese man, which means all the life experiences and wisdom I have learned and acquired to this point has been as a fat man.  So as in this situation I talked as if I am 300 pounds and the man I was dealing with of course had no idea and felt like I couldn’t relate to him.  Now that is my fault for not stating that info at first so the customer would understand the context of my comments, but I don’t wanna go around saying that all the time.  I will feel like all I am doing is bragging to people when that is not my intention.  Part of me feels like I need to constantly wear a shirt with my before picture on it so people will understand some of my comments and why I make them. 

     I am constantly making choices based on the fact I think I am bigger than I am.  For example, when I ran my last 5K, at the registration table they asked me what size shirt I wanted and without a thought I told them XL.  I am a freaking size large now not an XL, why do I continue to do that.  On the flipside I don’t really want to have my mindset change.  I feel like if I start to think I am “thin” or a “little guy” I might get to comfortable and let my guard down.  Maybe I will start to feel like I don’t need to worry about eating this or that, skip a few runs for no good reason or I don’t have to put forth any effort anymore.

     I keep having these episodes where one morning I’ll look in the mirror and still see a fat guy that needs to keep going, while other times I look and go holy shit I’ve lost a lot of weight.  The crazy thing is, that when I weighed 300 pounds I would look at myself and see a guy that carries his weight well and think I am good I am not that big, and other times go W.T.F. I AM FREAKING HUGE (#).  It is so crazy how your mind and eyes can play tricks on you.  You think of yourself one way, but your mind sees something else.  You are almost never sure of who you really are and a lot of times people aren’t going to really tell you either.  When I was heavy, no one really said anything about my weight, it seemed like it wasn’t a problem and was no big deal.  At least that is what was said to my face anyway.  For example, when I couldn’t ride the roller coasters at Cedar Point, it wasn’t my fault for being to fat; it was just despicable and degrading that CP would make the seats and belts so small.  How could they treat people this way?  Now I get comments like I am getting to skinny, I need to gain weight, where did Dean go, are you sick.  WTF!!! I finally tip the scale in my favor in this battle with my weight and food demons and now I am to skinny and need to eat.  When will this bullshit stop! Which is it people? Somebody please tell me!


  1. Dean you really should call me so we can talk about this. It's way too much to put in a comment but I'll try to summarize. I have maintained my weight loss for 3 1/2 years and counting. I still go into the Plus clothing section first, I also still walk into the handicap stall in the bathroom. Sometimes I still feel my large body and look down expecting to see all the rolls of fat that are long gone. I don't know how long it will take to feel like a "thin" person. When co-workers commiserate about their weight and I chime in with my struggles they look at me like I have no idea how to relate. My brain knows I am healthy and to the outside world I look like a "thin" person but on the inside (mentally) I still feel obese. I think the mental transition and acceptance of our new life/body takes longer if you carried the weight longer. I was overweight to morbidly obese for 17 years. That's a lot of mental damage to undo. The body work was not easy but it was a piece of cake compare to the mental work. You know me and trust me when I say you are the picture of health and you look amazing. If I didn't know you and I saw you on the street I would think you were just "one of those people" with a good metabolism who could eat whatever they wanted and never gain weight. I don't judge people based on their looks but when I see a woman that reminds me of myself I feel compelled to reach out to her to let her know she can do it. Of course I don't because I would probably get smacked down BUT if asked, I always share my story if the person has a genuine interest and desire to know how I did it. You have achieved "UNICORN" status. Now your brain has to accept it. Keep doing what you're doing. Love you Deano!

  2. Dean, I can TOTALLY relate to everything you wrote! I've maintained 100+ pounds lost for 4 1/2 years now, but I still think of myself as the size I was before. When I go somewhere and notice someone look at me, I immediately assume that they are judging me for my (overweight) size. Where the fuck did that come from?! My brain and my body are very far separated as far as my weight is concerned.

    Also, the comments about you being "too skinny"... That happened to me, too. Even when I was still at 165 pounds, people started commenting that I was "wasting away" or I should stop losing. But I really believe that this comes from the fact that they aren't yet USED to seeing you this way. If you had always been 178 pounds, nobody would think twice about it. But because they are so used to seeing 300+ pound Dean, of course you look very skinny! I really don't think most people mean to sound rude with those comments--a lot of it may stem from jealousy or insecurity, but a lot of it also comes from true concern. You know that you're losing weight in a healthy way, you're not "underweight", and you are very fit... so don't worry about the comments. In a year or two, when all those people are used to seeing "fit Dean", they won't see you as too skinny anymore. They'll see you as the fit, active, healthy person that you are!

    Have people started asking about loose skin yet? Grrr, that drove me absolutely CRAZY. Don't feel rude telling them that it's none of their business. I don't mind talking about my loose skin, but I despise it when a total stranger learns about my weight loss, and then immediately asks about loose skin. So rude!

    I'm glad you wrote about all this, and someday I hope we can have a conversation about it. I have these sorts of thoughts running through my head all the time, but nobody understands, unless they've also been through it.

    1. Surprisingly no one has asked the skin question, yet. I am not sure how I will handle that until it happens. I am happy to talk any time about it Katie.

  3. Yeah, other people are never satisfied. My mom went from commenting about me "getting a little chubby" every time I saw her to pained expressions of concern and "are you eating enough?" once was loosing weight. My BMI (which is horseshit, but another topic) says I am almost "overweight" and you are worried about me being too skinny? I only lost 50 pounds and I still have some mind tricks, so I imagine losing well over 100 would be even more intense!