I am a thin person. I always have been.
When I was born way back in the ancient days of 1988, I weighed in at exactly five pounds and was confined to an incubator for several days after birth for being underweight and having low blood sugar.
The blood sugar problem has stayed with me over the years, and I can usually count on becoming shaky and impaired at least two to three times each week, a condition usually remedied by a hastily-consumed brownie.
My small frame has also stayed with me. Anne, my birth-mother, is the exact same way. Throughout my childhood (or at least during the parts of it when I saw her), she was always rail thin, and she has only now at the age of forty-three begun to develop a tummy of sorts.
Even then, though, she's not fat by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly isn't in nearly the same shape as most other women whose years equal her own. It's just not in her.
Pictures of me from my childhood show a boy alarmingly skinny, one who consumed candy after candy and still seemed unhealthily small no matter what he did. My friends commented at the time that I looked anorexic, but I told them it was just the way my body worked.
In middle school, my classmates, ever resourceful with their taunts if not with their school work, began circulating a pun that likened me to the citizens of an African country whose name bore a resemblance to my own.
"Out of the way, African Nation Boy," they'd say as they brushed past me in the hallways and in classrooms.
This never bothered me, though. I was always comfortable with my body, and figured that as I got older things would change.
Sometime in early adolescence, I realized that I would never become a large or even normal-sized person. In eighth grade, at the age of fourteen, I stood a towering 5'8" tall, head and shoulders above most people in my age group. After that, though, my growth slowed.
I entered high school at the same height, weighing 118lbs. I began to notice before long that other people were growing taller and heavier while I was not.
In tenth grade, I added on an inch to reach 5'9", and started my Sophomore Year of high school at 125lbs. I could still eat anything my heart desired and have nothing but delicate arms and a smooth board of a torso to show for it, so I just kept ploughing ahead.
The next year, at the start of eleventh grade, I grew one inch taller (now at 5'10") and added ten pounds, bringing my weight to 135lbs. I didn't know it at the time, but my body had decided it was done.
In the four years that have passed since that time, I've gained half an inch in height and nothing at all in weight. There was a brief period during my Senior Year of high school when I rose to 146lbs, by far the heaviest I've ever been, but then I inexplicably dropped back down to 135lbs, my temporary brush with semi-normalcy gone a week after it began.
Obviously, weighing too much has never been a problem. What has been a problem, though, is the bad eating habits I've been indulging since childhood.
When I reached the age of seventeen, my body began a readjustment. My boundless capacity for eating food and not showing it ended abruptly that year, when I noticed that, while I wasn't actually getting heavier, all of the chips and cookies were going directly to one place: my stomach.
While the rest of my body remained lithe and sinewy, my midsection began to bulge outward. Occasionally my weight would rise to 137 or so, or peak at 139 (I haven't been above 140 since high school), before dipping back down again.
I could see that I was being unhealthy, that, however good the temporary gain might seem, it was being driven by pure fat and gluttony.
Last week, after staring for mornings in a row at the protruding belly in the mirror, I decided I'd had enough. I was artificially inflating myself with midnight snacking, overeating, and a sedentary lifestyle. It was affecting my body image and my overall health, so I concluded that something had to be done.
Sometime around last Saturday, I began a strict diet and exercise regimen that I have followed nearly to the letter ever since.
Here is the daily routine I've adhered to when I have off of work:
Breakfast: One serving size of cereal (3/4) a cup, followed by a bicycle ride around the neighborhood.
Lunch: One turkey sandwich with a light spread of mayonnaise and a single serving of potato chips (eleven slices), followed by a brisk walk around the neighborhood.
Dinner: One serving size of whatever I choose for dinner, possibly with a serving size of a side dish, followed by a more extended walk around the neighborhood.
Bedtime: Fifty crunches before bed.
I allow myself to cheat on Saturdays, which essentially means that I have one fattening snack along with a healthily-portioned meal.
In the six days since starting this program, my stomach has shrunk to the point that it's not even a bump anymore. I feel better about my body than I have in years, and I have the self-confidence to walk outside in a tight-fitting tee-shirt and not have to hold in my midsection.
I am developing good health habits, showing considerable willpower even when I desperately want to snatch a greasy sausage from the stove or butter-lathered popcorn from concessions at the theater where I work, and just generally being more proactive in my life.
Almost as much as the pleasure of seeing a body that I actually enjoy looking at is the satisfaction that I take in knowing I developed a plan and stuck to it.
Lack of motivation and academic laxity was a major problem for me last school year. I'd begin a homework assignment, get sidetracked by youtube or The Onion, and spend an entire night in the computer lab without even starting on my work.
If I can deny myself the burgers and fries in which I relish, then I can force myself to do what needs to be done on the school front. I have a reason now, a goal, something to build towards, and the horrible aimlessness of the last two years seems finally to be dissipating.
Now, I should add that a consequence of my newfound health consciousness is that I have lost weight. Over the last six days, I've dropped a total of four pounds, and today weighed 133.5 on the scale.
I'm not particularly worried about this, though; I was carrying most of my weight in my stomach, which wouldn't have been unnaturally large if I hadn't been filling it with trash. I'm not sure quite what my inborne weight is, but I'd imagine it to fall somewhere between 125-130lbs.
If anyone else out there is looking to get fit, I hope that maybe you can benefit from this post.