Six months ago, I admitted to the world that I am fat.
It was liberating.
People already knew I was fat, of course. That was obvious to anyone who met me. But weight is not an acceptable topic of conversation. Usually it's only mentioned behind people's backs and in a mean-spirited way.
By confessing to what everyone already knew, I gave people permission to talk to me about my girth. That made for some strange conversations at first. I wasn't used to talking about this stuff, either.
Some people took it a bit too far: I've been the object of a little Internet ridicule, and twice strangers have given in to the impulse to touch me. One punched me in the arm as a show of support. Thanks and ouch. The other poked me in the belly with his index finger, as if I was the Pillsbury Doughboy. I didn't giggle.
Mostly, though, it's been great.
I expected support from fellow overweight Oklahomans, and I got it. What I didn't expect was how much my modest journey would resonate with all kinds of people — even the skinny ones. Readers have been generous. Some have sent me books, recipes and T-shirts. Most have shared their wisdom and best wishes.
So far, I owe the greatest debt to Dr. Brian Coleman of OU Physicians. In the early stages, he provided medical oversight. Recently he has gotten even more involved, arising before dawn and driving up from Norman three days a week to work out with me in Oklahoma City. Each workout leaves me sore for days, a sure sign that he has me working hard.
The problem, of course, is that I have hit a plateau. I'm six months into this thing, but it might as well be three months. I've been stuck in the 270s for weeks now, unable to move the needle on the scale below 273 despite working out and consuming fewer calories. My average weight loss has dropped to less than six pounds a month.
And the goal is ...
I didn't set a specific weight loss goal when I started this thing. I weighed 307 pounds, and my goal was simply to lose some weight and get back in shape. I huffed and puffed each time I climbed a flight of stairs or walked across a long parking lot.
When people would ask me how much I wanted to lose, I'd get cagey, mainly because I didn't want to set myself up for failure.
I do have a weight loss goal, though, and today I'm going to come clean about it. I want to be down a total of 50 pounds by Christmas.
There. I've said it. And hopefully it'll prove as freeing as my initial admission that I am fat.
Fifty pounds doesn't seem impossible. It won't take me near my ideal weight, but it's a short-term goal. Hopefully it's achievable, although the last few months seem to indicate it isn't.
I want you to know that I'm not giving up. I won't. I can't.
I also want you to know that I have made significant improvements over the past several months, even if they're not all visible on the scale.
I am smaller. Thirty-four pounds smaller.
I'm firmer in some places, notably my arms, chest and legs, and looser in others. My stomach wobbles now that there's less fat stretching the skin taut; it's not pretty, but there you have it.
My endurance has improved. I still can't run very far, but I can walk five miles without stopping. Stairs don't leave me short of breath anymore. Because I've been working a variety of muscle groups — stretching them out, making them stronger — I have an easier time stooping and squatting and performing strenuous household tasks.
Changes are seen
I have a better quality of life now. I hesitate to say that, because I don't want to imply that anyone's value is determined by their weight, but for me, losing a little weight and exercising has improved my outlook and capabilities.
I hope that continues. And I hope you'll stick with me as I continue to detail my victories and setbacks.
I ask only one thing. If you see me in public or we happen to meet, fight back the urge to punch or poke me. I'll shake your hand. I'll even hug.
I don't need any help beating myself up.
Staff Writer Ken Raymond began a yearlong weight loss and fitness journey on April 1.
Here are his stats: Age: 41 Height: About 6 feet 1 inch Beginning weight: 307 pounds Current weight: 273 pounds