Injustice.

Vision blurred by tears, Henry desperately tried to understand how talking about playing clarinet at school devolved into the breaking of a dam, filled with an onslaught of his faults.  He racked his memory, searching for anything that could logically explain why his mother was shattering his happiness and nicking him with each shard.  Upon finding that he could provide no proper reasoning, he no longer resisted the outpour of tears yearning to escape his eyes, and he broke down in sobs, prompting a sharp admonishment about crying over nothing from his mother.

They had been holding hands upon the outset of their daily journey home from elementary school, and her smile had been brighter to him than the last few rays of the afternoon sun.  He liked when she was happy; it made him forget how sad he would feel being at home some days.  She sometimes made him feel like he couldn’t do anything right, and he felt small whenever her eyes passed over him.  She had a way of seeing through him, but not in the sense that she knew when he was lying; it was more so that whatever was behind him was worth more in her eyes than he was.

But as the walk progressed, the closer he got to home, the more he felt like she didn’t care at all for his story about his clarinet lesson during band.  He began feeling overwhelmed as accusation after accusation rolled out, each one splintering his mentality with needles of self-loathing until he hated himself and he didn’t even know why.  Somehow. she just managed to twist every scenario in a way that made him feel like the way he was living life just wasn’t good enough in her eyes.  It was his life, but it was her heart living it.  His heart no longer beat to his own rhythm as it was silenced in his mother’s howling disapproval, sealed in a casket before he even had a chance to place his feet on his individual path of life.

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These Ants.

These ants, they swarm without a care

for my peace or breathing air.

I feel them in my hair somewhere.

A crime against the unaware.

They lack regard for personal space,

intruding where they have no place,

enormity against man’s race,

dear ants, get out of my face.

What can I do to purge this pest?

It fights quite unlike the rest.

The horde sits on fury’s crest,

a tragedy, if truth’s confessed.

The skies above care naught for me,

these ants, they come and dine for free.

No charge for rent, they pay no fee,

Oh, woe is me! These ants won’t flee.

225.

225 – the number at which I was tipping the scales around January of this year.  Yeah.  That’s not a good look, so you can only imagine what I thought when I saw it.  Now, after going to the gym and weighing myself, I found myself sitting at 189; including the fact that I eat three square meals now that I’m home, I’d say it’d be fair to average that up to 192.

In this society, I would have plenty of people – kindhearted, the lot of them, don’t get me wrong – telling me that weight is just a number and that I shouldn’t be defined by it, and how as long as I’m confident in my own skin, that’s all that really matters, but I have never allowed myself to believe this.  The only difference is that this year, I was motivated to make the change.  While the inside of a person does count for a lot, how they take care of the outside speaks to their character as well.  What boggles my mind is that society allows people to get profoundly overweight, and somehow supports their lack of activity.  Even suggesting exercise seems to offend people, and it makes absolutely no sense.

I remember my freshman year when I had to catch the Amtrak.  It was only 0.2 miles according to Google maps, but when I ran that stretch and finally got to the Amtrak, it felt like I was about to have a heart attack, and breathing was next to impossible due to asthma.  The sad part is, I had beaten asthma.  When I was a kid, my parents didn’t let me get dependent on an inhaler because they thought it was steroids and not good for a kid, and also because we all had no idea what an asthma attack was.  So those times where I would sit alone, extracting breath from what seemed to be a collapsed straw in my lungs, I was overcoming asthma.  Until freshman year, when I had definitely let myself enjoy a little too much freedom with late night eating.  Is it not clear that a normal, functioning human being should be able to run 0.2 miles without desiring the assistance of an oxygen tank?  How could society possibly tell me that it was okay for my life to be where it was? How can it continue encouraging people to remain sedentary and ignore a life filled with things that humans should be able to do?  This is not a post to hate on the overweight because, at my height, I’m still considered overweight.  We should never judge anyone based on a physical criteria because it really is the content of their character that counts.  But for crying out loud, we’re not doing them any favors by encouraging inactivity.  An overweight person doesn’t deserve to be mocked, but he does deserve to hear what can change his life for the better.

At my current weight, I’ve found a lot of things to be much easier.  It all started with the Lenten season this year, when I gave up sweets.  I started becoming less dependent on naps because my energy was not derived from the kicks I got from sugar.  I continued with it well past Easter, and found that it had made a difference.  Initially, my discipline against eating sweets was so bad to the point where my palms would sweat when I saw sugar, but I became more self-controlled and found myself desiring it less.  Eventually, this discipline translated into running once a week, just a mile at first. I urged myself to do it to keep in BJJ shape because I was also combating injuries to both shoulders.  Soon, it became twice a week, still just a mile.  Then maybe a mile and a half, twice a week.  By the time summer came round, I was running three miles at a time, twice a week, and putting up a faster average mile time than when I began running.  Alongside running, I began going to the gym at the behest of a few friends, and found that there was more discipline to be harvested there.  Soon, the combination of running and lifting began contributing to what many affectionately refer to as “gainz” (yes, that word requires a “z”).   While I was home and away from the beloved Rec Cen at UCSB, the discipline carried on into doing at home workouts that made me sweat buckets.  Coupled with running, stepping onto the scale was no longer fear-filled, self-hating action; it was done in earnest so that I could continue improving on my physical health.  If I’m not mistaken, I even reduced how much I snored at night!  This physical pushing translated into other facets of my life that required discipline, and helped me a lot overall.  It’s very similar to a positive feedback reaction; once I cut sugar, I started working on my physical health.  Once I started working on that, I began to notice what I ate more.  Once I noticed what I ate more, I began choosing the right foods to eat. Once I ate the right foods, I was more alert during the day.  The chain is endless.

There was many a time where my weight would bring me great shame.  It really is no joke when I said that I would come home and my grandparents and parents would tell me I put on weight.  But that shame and all the comments they made fueled the fire for me to desire a better life for myself.  I realized how I made excuses for myself constantly, and would shy away from rigor of any sort.  The physical attributes I had contributed to my mental fortitude, and it wasn’t until I really understood how closely the two states were connected that I began putting in the effort to improve myself.  Complacency kills, pure and simple.  I was even okay with myself being at 195 before the Rec Cen closed, saying that as long as I turned it into muscle, I’d be okay.  But after playing a week of tennis daily, I found that I dropped six pounds.  But that six pounds lost was the fruit of countless miles run prior because without running those miles, I wouldn’t have been nearly as motivated to try so hard on court and sprint for drop shots, or run back and forth along the baseline.  It really all came together after stepping on the Rec Cen scale in terms of seeing how difficult it is to get to a point where you finally witness what you’ve steadily been constructing, and becoming motivated to continue building on.   If this post seems to be me just bragging about how far I’ve come, it’s not.  I just want it to be a wake up call for people in danger of getting trapped in the complacent mindset that society is encouraging.  I could easily be satisfied with maintaining my weight at around 189.  Compared to what it was, that’s a great improvement.  But I’m going to let my discipline carry me where it will, and at the end of the day be satisfied with true progress, not just a societal construct of tolerance.  225 is just a number, true, but it’s an important one, and if it means the world to me to see it go down, then I’m going to chase after that, one mile at a time.