Better Late Than Never
There were times I’d lay in my bed wishing things were different. One arm on the side of me, bent upwards underneath my face, the other slightly embracing me, against the world, hands fisted, solemn face, eyes refusing to shut, mind lost. Counting sheep didn’t work. The thoughts inside my head would take over. Before I knew it scenes were forming, people were engaged in dialogue, my own mouth was moving, and exactly what I’d wanted to say was coming right out, like nothing. Aww man why didn’t I say that, I’d scold myself and once again remember what number sheep was I on?
Over and over this routine would continue until either my thoughts were gone, or I’d get up and find something to do to avoid the thinking.
Usually that something was watching television and making myself a sandwich. Two slices of bread, three pieces of ham, two slices of cheese, literally a slab of mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuce, lots of pickles, mustard on both breads, hot sauce, and when we had them, chips of any flavor, although my favorite were sour cream and onion, laid on top of everything else, and then made into crunchy bits by my hands pressing in on both slices of bread. A large cup of soda or chocolate milk accompanied my snack. When it wasn’t enough, which it never was, I’d get up and make another sandwich. I didn’t even bother to put anything up after the first sandwich because I knew I’d be coming back for more. If my mother caught me in the act she’d say mijo ya no comas tanto pan, que ese pan nada mas engorda, which basically meant stop stuffing your face.
I was a big kid and loved to eat. The same kid who walked into Burger King and ordered eight whoppers, the one who scurried away from my family at Fiesta to order a couple of tacos, the one who stopped at Circle K every day after school to pick up a small package of potato wedges with cheese, later the teenager who skipped homeroom every morning to make sure I had a proper breakfast before going to school, my younger brother forced along for the ride most of the time, until one morning he said no more and jumped out of the car. From then on I rode alone. Those lyrics from 50 Cent, I love you like a fat kid loves cake, I can totally relate.
What I didn’t figure out till much later, many pounds later, was that I was eating for the wrong reasons. First, five pounds were shed, so I kept walking. Twenty pounds lighter I wanted more. Fifty pounds into my exercising it was now a competition. At the mall only shorts and a muscle shirt were worn for the weekly weigh-ins. I was the biggest loser. After a year I was 100 pounds lighter and thinner than I had ever been in my entire adult life. At Walmart most every size was too big, so children’s large shirts were my preference. I could run five miles six days a week without so much as a whimper, early in the morning at that, rare for someone who’s never been a morning person.
People didn’t recognize me anymore, they were nicer to me, they paid more attention to me, as if I had transformed completely from one day to the next. The old me was gone in their eyes, but for me nothing had changed. Well except for the fact that I no longer cared about how big or small I was. In the end nothing had changed except for my own perception.
That’s the thing about self-image it’s not about the way you look or how much you weigh, although I can’t deny it feels great to be healthy, but most importantly the decision to accept ourselves no matter what is an empowering one. Today, I know I could stand to lose unas cuantas libras, but whether that happens or not does not determine how happy I am.
It’s never too late too late to change our perception, and yes I still do love cake!