About a Fat Guy (part one)

I’m a fat guy. Not really that fat, just morbidly obese. I’m labelled that way on the BMI chart. Morbidly obese.

I’ve been a pudgy guy for nearly all my life. There was a ten year period where I ran a lot and was able to keep my weight down. I’m nearly six feet tall and, at the peak of my marathoning days I weighed 139 pounds. That may seem thin to you, but, I felt pudgy at that time. A pudgy 139 pounder. I felt that way because my internal body image was distorted. I felt fluffy. I wasn’t, of course, but that didn’t matter to my self image.

When I stopped running (always a mistake), I began to put on weight. When I reached 160 pounds I told myself I was at a good weight. I probably was. After all, 160 pounds is middleweight boxer territory.Who wouldn’t want to be a middleweight?

I stayed in that 160 range for awhile. Just long enough for me to begin considering that 160 was my regular weight, my best weight. I would gain four or five pounds and then lose them again. Back to 160. My best weight. After awhile I noticed I wasn’t dropping back to 160 as quickly. Eventually, I didn’t get there again. I adjusted to my new plateau of 175. It was my best weight.

I changed jobs and worked at a place where I would do a lot of walking from account to account. My boss told me that a side benefit of this job would be that I would lose a lot of weight with all that walking. I wondered why he would say that. He didn’t seem to realize that I weighed only 185, my best weight.

I didn’t see that weight loss prediction come true. Sure, there was a lot of walking, but it was always by a pizza place or bagel store. Even the outdoor newsstands in NYC sell candy! I was doing all that walking, so certainly I was fit. I just needed to update my wardrobe to accommodate me at my best weight of 200 pounds.

What a shock it was to me one day to go on an appointment that I’d made from a friend’s lead. When the client talked to my buddy about the meeting he referred to me as “the fat guy.” The fat guy? I was only 218 pounds. It was my…

I took a good, hard look at myself in a storefront window. Sure enough, it was true. It had happened when I wasn’t paying attention. I had become a fat guy. Fortunately, I was determined to do something about it. I changed my diet. I gave up soda, bread, pasta, cheese and potatoes. I bought a scale to keep in my office. I was determined. And, it worked.

I actually enjoyed being on a diet. First, it made me feel good to deny myself. I enjoyed the attention in the office when I gave weight loss progress reports. Also, and I know this is not a good trait, I felt morally superior to everyone who could not stay on their diet. I kept on my diet diligently and was able to attend our company’s national sales conference at 185 pounds. I was pretty proud of myself. After all, I had gotten down to my best weight.

Those weight loss battles were twenty years ago. After I got down to my best weight of 170 pounds I stopped being so diligent. I stopped weighing myself. I allowed some “treats”. I was inching back up on the scale. I was doing it without monitoring myself. A few days before this Easter I weighed in at 237 pounds. I told my son that I was too fat. It was the heaviest I’d ever weighed. I was far from my best weight. I would do something about it right after Easter. Right after Easter.

I learned a quick, painful lesson by starting my diet right after Easter. Monday, the day after Easter, I tipped the scales at 246 pounds. I had put on an amazing nine pounds in those final few days of my feeding frenzy. To bring that into focus, it generally days a month to diet away ten pounds. So I’d set myself back more than a month because I put off doing what was necessary. I’m sure there’s a corollary there to other habits in my life.

So, I’m making a declaration today. I’m declaring war on my fat, blubbery self and freeing the fit me from the trap of morbid obesity. I’m doing it publicly because I fear that if I don’t, I will fail. Today it’s “game on.” I’m going to stick with this diet and with this topic until I succeed. I ask all you people who pray to pray for me regarding this. I won’t give you any credit when I succeed but you will privately know you did your part.

 

 

 

 

Brian Regan, My Mother, and Stickman.

by Ross Decker Sr

Shortly after my mother passed away I took my daughter Bethany to see Brian Regan at Caroline’s Comedy Club. Because it was so soon after my mother’s death, I wasn’t certain that we should go. We also though it might be dishonoring to my mother’s memory to go to a comedy show. But a friend of ours had contacted the General Manager, Greg Charles, and Greg graciously upgraded our seats and arranged a backstage meeting with Brian. So, we used that as the reason we shouldn’t stay home. We went backstage for the pictures and spent some time chatting. I told Brian what our situation was and how awkward Bethany and I felt as the show began. But, for me, Brian Regan is the funniest man in the world. It wasn’t long before we were laughing a cathartic laugh. It was a great night. I told Brian that he’d done a great thing for us, that what he did for a living sometimes transcended a joke and a laugh. He’d started us back on the path toward healing.

Recently, Liz and I  had the opportunity see Ron Bennington interview Brian Regan for Ron’s show, “Unmasked”, on Sirius Radio. The interview was done at the same Caroline’s Comedy Club and recorded for a later broadcast.

Ron’s a terrific interviewer. He doesn’t always stick to the well traveled path and often gets insightful and personal responses from his subjects. On this occasion, he even got Brian Regan to cry. Well, at least he caused him to get seriously choked up. Bennington was wondering about how the comedian went about interacting with fans. Although he eschews social media platforms, in person Regan is very accessible. Regan told a story of meeting a guy from a comedy club who asked Brian if he would say hello to his brother. The brother wasn’t there so the man had Brian speak to him on the phone. Rather than just say a brief hello, Regan engaged the brother in conversation, asking how he was doing in school. The guy wasn’t doing well there. He was cutting classes and thinking about dropping out. Regan told him to stay in school, to strive to do well and get good marks. A year later, at the same club, he spoke to the man again. The man reminded Brian about the phone call, telling him that the brother had applied himself to school and was now getting straight A’s. What made the difference? Why had he made such a stunning turnaround? Brian choked up as he told us. “Brian Regan told me to.”

While at college, Brian started drawing a cartoon superhero character called Stick Man. And, because Stick Man came from the mind of Brian Regan, he was flawed. He was a superhero with super powers, but he consistently came up a little short. For instance, if four people jumped from the roof of a burning building, Stick Man would save only three. The fourth would splatter on the sidewalk.  Now, he had done his best. He’d done a good thing. But, in the end, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t everything. Regan thought that he might be able to syndicate Stick Man. He gathered all his work and sent it off.  The answer was no. he got the rejection letter. And he never tried to syndicate it again! It never occurred  to him that this rejection represented the opinion of only one person. He took it as a total and final rejection of his work. He accepted the end of his dream.

Of course, talking about that with Liz turned the conversation to my mother. She’d had a tremendously difficult life. Though she survived, her dreams did not. Her life had been horrible. Her childhood alone was one that would crush anyone’s dreams. She grew up in an orphanage, And that was when things got better. Prior to that, she and her twin sister were passed around among relatives for short stays. No one wanted them. And no one felt compelled to pretend they did.  At one house they were fed only orange marmalade sandwiches. Their health deteriorated so badly that both girls were hospitalized, Their dreams then were that one day their parents would come for them. That day never came.

I remember sitting with her at a church meeting. It was one of those times where the conversation went around the table and each person spoke their names and their interests. When it came to my mother, she said, in all honesty that she had no interests. The pastor pushed further, asking about hobbies. Surely she had a hobby. No. My mother remained steadfast. “Nothing in this life interests me at all,” she told him.

Our relationship had always been rocky. My mother and I rarely got along. I knew she was broken. But, I also knew that the kids weren’t expected to fix the parents. When I got older, I tried. But, like Stick Man. I couldn’t do it well enough. The breaking had come when she was small and she wore the scars like armor now. Armor that simultaneously protected and wounded anew..Often I looked at her with disdain. That day I looked at her with compassion.

How different her life may have been had someone spoken to her when she was a young woman and encouraged her to keep trying. Someone who might have told her that one person’s rejection. ten people’s rejection, didn’t mean she was crushed. She needed to know that. But, she never did.

The obvious point of all this is that we each need to walk through this world with an eye for the broken. We need to be a superhero for someone even if we are an imperfect one like Stick Man.