[NOTE: This essay is in no way meant to shame anyone for their own body. Genetics play a huge role in our meaty shapes, as do economics and the realities of day to day life. This is a story about my own struggles and the complimentary reactions with my writing. If you struggle with weight management, please consult your doctor. Most importantly, take care of yourself.]
I recently got into the worst shape of my life.
Well, that's not exactly accurate. Let's start from the beginning.
I was a pretty scrawny child growing up. Through high school, I had basically the same body shape for four years. I wrestled, which led to some rather unhealthy bouts of cutting weight and putting it back on week after week (a few pounds here and there). When I got to college, and decided not to play sports, I quickly put on my Freshman 15. And then another 15. And then another.
Had it not been for the Army and ROTC, I would have continued to balloon into...well, into a human balloon.
Again, for four years, I maintained a fairly similar body structure--albeit with a bit more muscle and meat on my bones. I was within the healthy range for my height, but I was constantly told by the Army that I should lose another 10 pounds (the height/weight scale the Army uses is woefully out of date for short, stocky people).
Then came life after graduation. My weight, like most Americans, fluctuated pretty wildly. I went up and down ten, fifteen, twenty pounds at a time. When I got married, I cut 30 pounds to be in "wedding shape," only to put it all back on after I resumed consuming solid foods.
During all of this, I wrote words on paper. Now how do these two things relate?
Well, for the past two years, I've struggled with writing. I finished my second book, started the outlines for 3 and 4, and then I got stuck. I could hardly hold thoughts in my head, let alone plop them down for others to read.
Needless to say, my publisher was thrilled at my new pace.
I went home for Thanksgiving and I weighed the most I had ever weight in my life. I'm a short fella, so it doesn't take much weight to push me out of the comfortable "hefty" column on the BMI chart. Like every year, I ran a Turkey Trot 10K with my brother. Like every year, he left me in the dust and sprinted on ahead. Unlike every year, I barely finished with my breakfast intact, and it took me 20 minutes longer than usual.
I made myself a promise: To lose the weight and regain my sense of health.
I tried Keto...no dice. I know it works for some people, but it gave me heart palpitations and meat sweats. I lost 10 pounds and then immediately put on more.
I tried Paleo with the same results. Then another diet. And another. And so on. All with the same results.
Finally, I gave up. I drank more, ate more, baked cakes and cookies for no one but myself, and all the while my manuscripts languished. I rushed scripts, growing frustrated with the process of writing as a whole. I started to question my career choice, my abilities, and my future.
This led, as I'm sure you can imagine, to some serious comfort eating. Which led to more weight. Which sank my writing even further.
I hit bottom about a month ago. I had deadlines staring me in the face, another Turkey Trot (and marginal body shaming) around the corner, and the highest number I had ever seen on a scale.
It was time for a change.
With the support of my wife, I've made some serious lifestyle changes. It's not an easy road, for sure, but no path worth taking is ever easy.
I've cut a lot of things from my life, and I've resumed a workout routine that would make ol' Officer ManKorn proud. In a month's time, I've dropped 15 pounds.
This isn't to brag. I know everyone struggles with weight in their own way (except for you genetic Adonises out there). I'm saying that if I can do it, anyone can. I am not the laziest person in the world, but I've been invited to the club before.
More than just getting healthier, I noticed another fascinating change: By losing weight, I started writing faster.
Now, this could be completely an "Adam Thing," and might not work for everyone. Still, running and working out gives me time to think about stories. Then, when I sit down to write, I have more ideas to throw at the board. I feel healthier, and I don't mind sitting longer.
Basically, running fast helped me write faster.
I have miles to go (literally and figuratively) before I am back to "not at risk for a butter overload," but I'm on my way. Every day I have to remind myself to eat right, to drink tons of water, to work out. Every day is a challenge, and sometimes I really hate it. Sometimes my mental health is not as strong as I'd like it to be.
But life is a challenge. It's up to each of us to gather the strength to win. I'm lucky to have my wife on my side, but you have to find those in your corner as well. No matter the struggles ahead, you've got people all around who love you and want you to succeed. And if you can't find them, know that I'm here, rooting for you, pom poms at the ready to cheer on every victory.
YOU CAN AND WILL DO IT!
So get out there. Find your best life. Ask for help if you need it. And always, ALWAYS, be write.