Every once in a while, these days, I find myself flexing my arm and poking at my bicep. Mostly because, after years (decades, even) of being mostly flab and fat, I’ve discovered that I actually have a bicep. It’s not huge, but it’s there. And I seem to find it fascinating.
Does that make me strange? Because, now that I’ve typed it out, it really sounds strange.
There is a point to this post beyond simple narcissism, however. One of the things I struggle with, day in and day out, is the feeling that I’m not actually making any progress. Which is bad craziness, objectively. I’ve lost 117 pounds, after all. I wear pants with a waist size that’s a foot smaller than where I started. I can climb stairs, and walk five and six miles a day, and give my son horsey rides around the house. Clearly, I’ve made progress. And yet, on a daily basis, I don’t feel like I have. Why? Because I live in my skin 24 hours a day. And because of that, I don’t notice the changes that have taken place, unless I force myself to stop and look at them. When I don’t, I still see all the work that’s left for me to do – I see the hanging gut, and the way my knees will still ache after some of my exercises, and the struggles I have to hit my goals.
Losing the weight, it seems, is the easy part. It’s just a simple transaction, burn more calories than you consume and – barring exotic medical conditions – you will lose weight. The difficult part, it seems, is all in your head. Way back when I started this blog, I said that I didn’t believe I’d lose the weight. That I knew I could, but that I didn’t believe that I would. I was doing it because I knew I had to, not because I actually thought I’d succeed. Some days, sometimes a lot of days, I still don’t believe I’ll succeed. And I’m terrified that I’ll go through all of this, and that I’ll just turn around and gain it right back. Sometimes, I really think that I’m just a fat person, and that all of this weight loss is a temporary fluke.
I think that’s why I notice things like having a bicep. And why I’m amazed, when I stop and think about how much walking I do in a day, or how much exercise I get in. Not out of narcissism, but because I find it amazing. It’s proof that I’m not the guy I’m afraid I am. That I’m not just a fat guy going through a phase. It’s proof that I really am making progress, even when I don’t always notice it.
Now, I just need to keep reminding myself of that fact until I start to believe it.