It’s time

tug of war closeup

Toffehoff, Flickr. CC license.

I’m going to warn you up front, this blog is going to be a therapy session for me.

I’ve written before about how I’ve struggled with my weight since birth. Recently, and by recently I mean over two plus years, I’ve lost 89 pounds. Which is great, but it got me thinking, why have the changes I made finally stuck? Why didn’t it stick with the other countless diets I tried? Quite honestly I wasn’t ready or didn’t feel worthy.

Let me tackle not feeling worthy to lose weight. I know it sounds weird, but when you had to wear “husky” onesies from day one, you don’t feel as worthy as everyone in the room. I’ve been bullied, made fun of, and even dragged across the field of a middle school during a tug-of-war prank on field day.

I had to be the bigger man and let it all go because I knew if I started a fight, it wouldn’t end well because of all my pent-up anger. I internalized it, ate those feelings too, and eventually became the class clown.

Class clowns are really the only way for a person built like me to stop the bullying and harassment. I held court with my humor, deflecting any negative comments with a witty retort … much of it self-deprecating. As you grow up and move away to college, you hope for the best and a new lease on life.

I reinvented myself a bit in college, using my humor as a columnist for the school paper. But no matter how many positive comments I received for what I wrote, I still felt like the kid being dragged by the rope across the soccer field. Honestly, I still do sometimes.

Some of you who’ve read this far might be thinking, “Just lose the weight already.” Trust me, I tried but the only two coping mechanisms I knew were humor and food. And since food is sort of a necessity, it’s a hard habit to break cold turkey.

Becoming a dad was truly the best thing that ever happened to me and I thought some sort of switch would flip, but sadly it didn’t. What finally made me feel worthy enough? The look on my oldest daughter’s face while I was laid up in a hospital bed with kidney stones. She looked so scared and helpless; all I wanted to do was hug her and hold her.

At that moment I felt worthy enough and ready to make some changes, no matter how small, because I want to be around when she needs me to give her a hug. This isn’t a “poor me” blog, but more of a telling of a journey of one dad who still has a lot of work to do.

Funny as I reread this blog article, I realize most of my examples happened long ago, but around the same grade my daughter is going to be in next year. She doesn’t have the weight issue like I did, but might face challenges that I never did. But, I know I’ll be around if she needs me.

­– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

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