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A reminder that I’m half the man I used to be

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POSTED August 5, 2012 10:17 p.m.

A picture - they say - is worth a thousand words.

In my case, I had spent the better part of my time growing up and in my 20s trying to say as little as possible.

I avoided having my picture taken the way most people avoid wrestling with alligators. I loathed the camera for most of my first 30 years - save a stint from eighth grade to the first year in college. There was simply too much of me.

It was bad enough being told repeatedly by everyone who for some reason thought I wasn’t aware of it that I was fat. Being teased by other kids was nothing compared to adults.

I shamefully admit there have been occasions where I gleefully celebrated in silence the irony of relatives – who were skinny as a rail growing up and were unmercifully when it came to reminding me that I was fat – some 40 years later when they were closing in on 400 pounds. But in my defense, I never once asked them the questions they peppered me with as a kid that ran the gamut from “do you like being fat” to “fat people are losers.”

The rare times that I have ever lashed out at anyone when it involves the issue of people being fat was after I had gone from 320 pounds down to 190 pounds at age 30. I had three people ask me the one of most insensitive question you could think of: “Do you like yourself more now that you’re not fat?” Each one of them got a curt response of, “I liked myself just fine when I was 320 pounds” followed by a question asking them if they would be happier if they didn’t have some shortcoming that I perceived them to possess. It ticked them off. Two of them told me I was insensitive. Too bad they missed the point.

You might understand why I made it a mission to stay out as many photos as possible as well as to get rid of those that I could.

That’s why I was more than surprised when my sister Mary produced several photographs of me when I was almost twice as big as I am today. They had come from the last boxes taken from my mom’s house that - after being in the family for 49 years - closed escrow last month.

At one time I would have taken the photographs and destroyed them. This time I didn’t. It has a bit to do with the fact I’m convinced I’ll never let myself become overweight again.

My ex-wife has been trying to tell me that for the better part of a decade. I weigh myself religiously everyday and track it on a calendar. I adjust exercise accordingly. As for food, I essentially eat the same thing six out of seven days with slight deviations on one weekend day - hey, what is life without a weekly banana cream pie Blizzard?

I’ve let others actually see the photos. They have been a little more than surprised.

They were taken right around my peak - 320 pounds or more. The pants were tight 42-inch waists. I favored dark colors and wore suits for reasons obvious to anyone who has ever been overweight.

Today I weigh 170 pounds. I weighed more than that in the fifth grade. The pants are a size 33-inch waist and are fairly loose.

I could probably write a trilogy about my experiences with food, nutrition, exercise, and how everything from when you eat, how often you eat, what you eat, stress, and abuse to lifestyle plus how diets per se don’t work and never will. There is no magic pill. You simply have to understand your body is indeed a temple and what you do with it impacts every aspect of your life whether it’s physical or emotional.

As for the photos from my bigger days, I’ m not going to destroy them.

They’re a reminder that I’m half the man I used to be.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.

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