It’s no lie. I’ve pretty much always been a fat kid. Since third grade or so, at the very latest. I don’t have many memories of a time when I wasn’t fat. Most of the pictures of me from before I was super fat actually look more like pictures of my little brother.
It has been a long time since being a fat guy bothered me. When I was younger, I obsessed about my appearance. I was terrified of my size. I was hopelessly angry at my body and I punished it trying to get it into the shape I thought it was supposed to be.
When I was 20, I thought the only way I was ever going to lose weight was to put chemicals in my body to burn fat. It was 2003 and we hadn’t decided as a nation that we would ban all of those really effective diet drugs. You could still buy things like Metabolife over the counter.
The US wouldn’t ban ephedra for another year and wouldn’t ban pseudoephedrine for another three. I wouldn’t stop researching ways to get my hands on it for another decade.
As is pretty clear in many aspects of my life, I am easily addicted to chemicals. This is especially true of stimulants. I’m also a fat guy. I build tolerance quickly. Especially to stimulants.
That is not a good combination. A few weeks after deciding to try Metabolife, I was already ignoring the “do not take more than two of these” warnings. I was taking them four-to-five at a time.
I washed them down with energy drinks.
Multiple times per day.
And would you like to know how much weight I lost with my cocktail of OTC meth and niacin?
About twenty pounds.
My blood pressure shot through the roof. I had headaches and chest pain. I only slept 2-3 hours a day and I sweat through my clothes. I stank. I was killing myself. My boss told me my face was becoming skeletal. My bathroom told me my body was shutting down.
And I lost a grand total of twenty-fucking-pounds.
Eventually, I broke down. I quit my job. I moved back in with my parents. I got clean.
And I put weight back on.
Over the next few years, I really packed it on. I went back up to my original weight, then I put on another 100 pounds.
Depression crept in. I ate things like fried chicken by the bucket or entire pizzas.
I got fatter and fatter.
I chucked energy drinks and caffeinated beverages because when you’re an addict, you never really stop chasing the high.
And I got fatter and fatter.
The fatter I got the worse my depression became. The more depressed I became, the worse I ate.
Food and I did not have a good relationship.
Then, almost 10 years after the last one, I had another nervous breakdown and I drove across country to live with my parents again.
I didn’t have any money left, so there was no going out and eating. I could barely afford gas to get back and forth to work. I ate very small amounts of food. I took lunch with me every day.
And I walked. I walked because if I didn’t, I would be stuck inside with my boxes full of failure.
And wouldn’t you know it? The damnedest thing happened.
I lost 100 pounds.
I lost it fast, too. I moved to Montana in July and by January I was down 100 pounds.
But, no matter how much I dieted or exercised, I couldn’t get past that point. I could run across a parking lot, parkour down three flights of stairs, and hurdle a park bench, but I couldn’t seem to get my weight below 290 pounds.
So, I accepted it. I mean, do I really care if I weight 290 pounds if I can parkour down three flights of stairs? No. I don’t. I’m basically a ninja.
So, time went on. I got a little lazier. I moved out of my parent’s house again. I put some weight back on. I lost it again. I put it back on again.
Then, Depression–the fickle bitch beast monster that stalks you from the sewers of your own psyche–decided it was time to pounce again.
A few months ago, I was doing okay. And then, one day, I wasn’t.
My house got dirty because I didn’t feel like cleaning it. I started gaining weight again because I didn’t feel like getting up from my couch. Grocery store chicken became a fairly common food source.
I was clever, too. I rotated which grocery store I bought it from so none of them would realize I was eating it five nights a week.
I stopped writing.
I stopped podcasting.
I stopped doing a lot of things.
Then, one day, I was sitting in my chair, rotting in my own filth and self-loathing, when I saw an ad for a food delivery service.
A few years ago, I promised myself I was going to learn to cook at least 5 new meals. I grew up in a family of six. My parents cooked for bulk. That’s how I learned. I can cook the crap out of something like spaghetti. But, I can only cook it in a quantity suited for a small army.
I wanted to change that. HomeChef* offered me a solution that wasn’t as expensive as other, similar services.
Keep in mind, I was throwing away $20-30 a day on fast food anyway, so $10 meal was a good deal.
I signed up.
A week later, I got my first box. I unpacked it and put everything away in my fridge. Then I went back to my chair.
A couple of days later, I wandered into the kitchen and decided to try cooking the meals. After all, I paid for them. I might as well use the ingredients they sent me instead of letting it all go to waste.
But, first, I had to do the dishes.
So I cleaned my kitchen. Then I cooked dinner. Then I cleaned my kitchen again.
The next night. I cooked dinner. Then I cleaned my kitchen. Then, because I had a little extra time, I cleaned off my dining room table.
Then, I went back to being sedentary for a few more days until the next box came.
And I opened it. And I cooked dinner. And I cleaned my kitchen.
And I felt good about myself. I felt like I was doing something.
And the next day, I did it again… and all of my laundry… and made my bed.
And I carried on that way for the rest of the month. Learning a little more about cooking. Working through these formulas for food. Eating appropriate amounts. Letting my brain do work.
And in November, I sat down with my calendar and made a menu for the month. Just covering the days I wasn’t going to have a HomeChef package to cook. And I went and I bought the groceries.
And then, throughout the month, I cooked. Every night. Me in the kitchen.
And every night I would do the dishes. And every night I would clean a little more of my apartment.
Then, something else happened. While working in the kitchen, my brain started to come alive again. Stories started to develop. A new character. A new world.
So, I started writing again. I started feeling human. I started feeling fulfilled.
And now, I’m starting to realize that preparing food can be as much of a comfort as eating it. A simple, methodical approach to the kitchen builds momentum.
Slowly, but steadily, I’m getting my life back in order.
And I can only thank food.
*This is my HomeChef referral link. I don’t get paid for it, I just get a discount off my package if you use it. If you’re interested in Home Chef, but don’t like tracking links, you can go to http://www.HomeChef.Com