9 Jan 2013
I have been told that my weight loss story inspires people. I sometimes wonder why I waited so long to lose weight. I have had so many different “moments” in my life when I was so fed up with being morbidly obese… yet I still ate a lot. I still was not active. I still was not motivated to figure out a way to lose weight for myself. I look back at those moments now and think about it.
Out of all the moments in my obese life, there is one that sticks out more than anything else…
It was February of 2006. I was a head chef for an Italian “family style” restaurant. People seem to trust an overweight chef. Maybe it was because I ate everything and knew what was good and what was not.
I rarely talk about it, but the coolest part about my journey is that I lost 200 pounds while working at a place where their slogan was “Meatballs as Big as Your Head.”
The Italian restaurant’s headquarters was based out of Minneapolis and there was a meeting for all the chefs around the country. It was horrible for me. Minneapolis is cold, and I only had warm clothes (I live in Orlando).
To fly, I would have to either get two seats or move up to business class, and I hate leaving home.
Regardless, I knew I had to go, so I flew “business class” out to Minneapolis, a prettier version of Buffalo.
I was very overweight then. Right at the 400 mark. Breathing was hard, walking was even harder.
They put us up in a hotel one block from the corporate office. While others walked, I took a cab every day. I could not walk without my back hurting. I was the only one who took a cab.
Here is what I remember the most: we were going to do some volunteer work. For the life of me, I do not remember the name of the charity. When we got there, the offices were on the fifth floor. We were also informed that the elevator was broken. People were bummed. I was not bummed. I was scared. Literally scared. Five flights of stairs!!!!! Are you kidding me?????
Yet, I could not just stay downstairs. I went up the stairs.
Twenty minutes later, I made it up five flights of stairs. I was out of breath, full of sweat. I felt like I was going to pass out. I could not help because I was so out of breath. Everyone else was up the stairs in less than five minutes. I was not.
I will never forget this. The HR director for the West Coast came up to me and said, “You really need to lose weight.” Then, while walking away, under his breath, he said, “Worthless.”
I have been insulted before. Everything about my weight. Nothing stung like the word worthless. Under the HR director’s breath, he said I was not worth anything. Why am I even here? My wife and family are idiots for loving me. If I was for sale, I would be worth nothing. He questioned my existence.
I never forgot that moment. It has been five years. As you know, I have lost the weight. I work out all the time. I even get on the StairMaster every so often just so I can prove to myself that I can climb stairs.
The HR director was wrong. I was not worthless. Overweight people are not worthless. They just eat more calories than their bodies can burn. That is all.
I have received over 1,000 letters from people all over the world since I began my journey. So many people who are inspired by my pictures, a post I wrote, or even a question I have answered. I have been called an inspiration to people. I think so many people who defeat the odds are inspirational.
And that is maybe the thing now: I look back at that moment when I was called worthless and realize that I was not. I needed to lose weight. I should have started to lose weight earlier. At the end of the day, I am just glad I made the decision to get healthier.
I would never tell someone they need to lose weight now or even tell them they need to lose weight. What I will say is that although it has been a difficult and painful process, it was well worth it.
You owe it to yourself to be the best you can in life.
Photo by Ugrym
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