As I venture through the fitosphere of life, as it has become, I am still constantly finding out new things about myself. I am still in awe that I have become one of those people who has lost a significant amount of weight. It does not even seem possible, and it feels like I warped from obese to healthy overnight because my memory of the last year and half, though filled with an incredible amount of hard work, doesn’t focus on the day to day. That kind of progress is what throws people off sometimes, that we do not always see the day to day, which is why progress photos are nice to keep around, which I talked about in one of my last blogs.

This is why progress needs to be measured in a variety of ways. Yeah, it’s great to have a goal weight. Want to lose 20 lbs., go for it, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t lose that 1 or 2 lbs. in the week that you wanted. Our bodies are variable to the point of defiance at times. I remember one plateau that I had that lasted over a month – a weight range of 1 lb. I was going to the gym 4 times a week, running, and nothing. Even now, I have weighed within the same weigh range for over a month, but the big difference is, I am not getting pissed off about it. Hell, I don’t even weigh myself that often anymore (maybe 2 x’s a week). I know that since I started Insanity and now CrossFit, that I will gain muscle mass, so the scale is useless to me. If you are looking to lose weight, don’t let the scale rule your life, you MUST have other goals, NSV’s as they are called – Non-Scale Victories.

I’ve had a ton of these along the way, which have pushed me forward even more. I found that how my clothes fit became the biggest benchmark of progress. A year and a half ago, I was at a solid XL. L would have been too tight on me, and I now own a shirt that is XS (though I am primarily S or M that run small). SMALL. Never in my life would I have thought that I could be a small. I think one of the reasons that obesity is so prevalent in America (or any country where obesity is a norm) is because, like many issues, we just sweep it under the rug, we don’t talk about it, it becomes normalized, and that is how people function with obesity. When I started this journey, I knew I was overweight. Obese? No clue. Being closer to 300 than 200 lbs. was a scary hand to settle, but that realization is needed. I used to be the guy who would laugh about being a little bigger. It never even entered my stream of consciousness that I had a legitimate problem. People do not see being obese as a problem. “I just like food” is a great excuse. Then there are people who are just apathetic to the cause. I don’t want to be the guy running around with the fit flag, shoving it down people’s throats. Lifestyles are individual choices, people can be fat and happy, but they can only be so HEALTHY. I know that I felt happy before I lost the weight, but now I friggin’ love life. I don’t take it for granted. I challenge myself on a daily basis, I have more confidence, I go out and get what I need, I engage more with people and the world around me. Showing up at the gym at 5:50am is not something I would have even done 2 weeks ago, but did it last week and this week – because living is better than sitting on my ass and doing nothing.

With that said, it is an individual choice. It’s a lot of work, and only you can do it. I know for me, that transition of “awakening” will never be forgotten. I know for a fact, I will not slip into my old lifestyle, I am far too invested at this point.

So, what’s all this mirror talk about? Like I said at the start of this blabbing, NSV’s are important. They keep you going. I realize that is how fitness professionals make their way. It isn’t about losing X weight, but maybe benching a bit more, running a little fast, etc. I remember a year or so ago, I went to a Zumba class, and this is one of those rooms with full wall to ceiling mirrors for the majority of the room, and there is a small section of the room that there are windows. I immediately went to this area, as looking at myself doing Zumba seemed like a prison sentence. Even over time, as I became comfortable with Zumba, I stayed there. Possibly out of habit, but in retrospect, I know it was because I hated looking at myself. Despite the fact that I was in the right place, doing the right thing, I didn’t want to watch myself feeling watched by others. First of all, being the only male in a fitness class is awkward enough, let alone being obese and trying to dance around.

Well, since the semester has started, I have been going to a lot of fitness classes (Cardio Barbell Blast, CrossFit, TRX Interval Training, Kettlebell Kraze, etc.) Most of these classes take place in this lovely mirrored room, and many of them are smaller and take place within the portions where the mirrors are positioned. Last Monday, during CBB, I was confronted (while lifting for the first time) with watching myself workout. I was completely happy with who I saw staring back at me. At this point, there is a bit of fast that I am trying to trim on my stomach, butt, and thighs, but mostly trying to gain some muscle and get a bit toned (which is why this lifting class is good for me). The great thing about the mirrors is that you need to check your form at times, and I know just 6 months ago, I would feel so self-conscious doing something like this that I probably would not return to the class without my little unmirrored haven in the corner of this room. Now, several times a week, I am in this room, working out, and I have no problems whatsoever. It actually drives me to improve my form, focus harder, and get more done.

You may be like me. Mirrors were the enemy. A reflection showing you what you feel like a daunting negative quality of yourself is – a daily reminder that you aren’t healthy, and in turn, maybe unhappy. I am not fully sure what my relationship to the mirror was beforehand, I never explored it, much like my distaste for having my photo taken. I used to use the “I’m a photographer, I like being behind the camera” excuse, but that was bullshit, and I know that now. Even things about myself that I did not like before, due to tearing down these other boundaries, I am finding myself with higher self-esteem and a greater outlook on how I live in this world.

So, go out there, let the mirrors fall, and become the person you want.