Guest Blog – “Hi, My Name is Jesse, and I’m a Fataholic.”

Posted: January 2, 2015 by Jesse in Guest Blogs

(From Dan – We have a great guest blog from our of our long-time, rockstar clients Jesse aka JGraff aka “The Artist Formerly Known As Jammin Jesse. He wrote his testimonial guest blog a couple of years ago now and it was actually the first guest blog we ever posted on this blog. You can find that HERE. I’ll let him take over.)

“I’ve never done this sort of thing before, so bear with me.  Confession is hard to do.

I guess we’re supposed to talk about our journey right?  I was always a big kid. I wore “husky” jeans from Sears when I was a kid, but I don’t think I was your stereotypical fat kid.  I was highly active and solid.  My Mom is a nurse so for the most part we were aware of what was healthy and what wasn’t growing up, and candy was a real treat.  Moreso, fast food was a luxury.  In hindsight I don’t know if that was simply because it was bad for us, or if my parents just hated buying food?  Regardless, the rare trip to McDonald’s or Burger King was a joy.  As I recall, I was about 190 lbs heading in to High School, I played football and rode BMX constantly.  I had, however at that point, already started smoking.

During Freshman year I decided I didn’t want to play football any more (regret that one).  I thought it’d be a lot more fun to hang out with friends and get in trouble.  I still rode my bike everywhere, until the day after my 16th birthday when I got my license and became obsessed with driving.  In case you don’t know that’s what I do for a living, I have a trucking company.  Anyway, I’m pretty sure that’s where I took a turn for the worse weight wise.

By the time I graduated I was probably over 220, I don’t really recall specifically because I didn’t care very much.  I was mostly sedentary, spending my free time either with my girlfriend (now wife) or (video) gaming with friends.  We’d play to the wee hours of the morning and hit Eat N park for a greasy breakfast and a thousand cups of coffee and cigarettes, head home as the sun was rising and sleep to the afternoon.  You can obviously see that’s not a healthy pattern, and really didn’t last more than a year or so but it was a significant enough time that it drove the nail in the coffin of my fitness.  Because I survived that, and in my youth believed that I felt good, I was impervious and could do whatever I wanted to, eat and drink whatever I wanted to, without repercussion.

At 20, I was about 240 lbs.  I noticed the weight gain, but thought I felt good.  I had gotten a place with friends and we partied like it was our job.  I turned 21 and really took a liking to this whole beer-and-wings business!  To sit and drink a pitcher of beer and eat 20 wings was common on Thursday nights at Greengarden, then at the end of the night hit Taki’s for Greek grilled cheese sandwiches.  I’m not exaggerating, and that was just Thursday.  I began to balloon, shortly after I was married at 24 I tipped in at 300lbs.  At that point I met a guy at work who had a similar story, and he helped me cut a ton of weight using a modified Atkins-style diet as that was trendy at the time.

In the years since, I had see-sawed in weight but still remained heavy.  I’d tell people “I’d rather be fat and happy than skinny and miserable”.  Now we get to the fataholic part of this conversation, because that’s absolutely no different than saying “at least when I’m drunk I feel good” or “I’d rather be stoned and happy than sober and sad”.  The reason that through all of those years when I ate quad stacker burgers from BK on the regular and drank a case of beer a week was that it was the food making me high, and I had to maintain that high to feel good.  I never came down from it, ever, but that required more and more and more and more food all the time.  I know now that foods, especially energy dense foods that are high in sugar and fat affect the brain in exactly the same way that heroin, cocaine and opium do.  We crave dopamine, and food makes it.  It makes us feel good.  Studies show that obese people have naturally lower levels of dopamine in a fasting state; drug addicts have the same condition.  Did we start out with low levels of dopamine?  Probably not, because the more you compensate most any body chemical, the less your body makes of it naturally.  You begin to require that boost to reach the proper level.  You need the boost to feel good.  You need the bump in the morning.  You need that first smoke.  You need a shot of whiskey in your coffee.  Or do you?

Exercise produces dopamine.  Lots of it.  Stable, regular and sustainable dopamine (along with other happy-hormones like serotonin).  When I started with Twoguns, I quit smoking after 20 years.  Cold turkey, flat out.  January 20th will be two years.  Many people were flabbergasted that I quit and started working out but I don’t think that I’d have been able to quit WITHOUT working out.  It replaced that craving, the dopamine production.

But this isn’t about smoking, it’s about food.  Another thing I quit when I started was fast food, which was another challenge.  I was still “feeling good” from food and had to learn how to eat right.  I know now how to eat right but implementing that is a heady challenge that I struggle with way, way more than I ever had to fight a craving for cigarettes.  It’s not even in the same ballpark for me.  Given the option to eat an entire pizza or smoke a few cigarettes, I’m taking the pizza.  All day, every day.  It doesn’t take much to relapse.  Just a long work day, when I’ve run out of food in my lunch box but I’ve been at it for ten hours straight and I’m hungry and tired and I need a boost and can’t stomach any more water.  Then the next day it’s because I didn’t get up early enough to pack lunch.  Then the next day it’s just oh well I’ll stop eating fast food next week.  I begin to feel crappy without it, and it saps my motivation to go to the gym and get my work in.  It’s so easy to eat.  So easy.  Then, I get up at 5:15 and go work out, and I feel so much better than I do from eating.  I don’t feel like garbage afterwards, it doesn’t make me want to take a nap, it doesn’t make me want to drink.

I am a fataholic, and that’s something that I never understood when I was fat.  I’d hear studies on food addiction and scoff, but it’s real.  I have a problem with it, and that’s the first step to recovery.  I hope if you’ve read this whole thing, maybe you’ve seen something in common, and it clicked for you, and I’ll see you at the gym while I try to sweat off this weight I’ve slowly put back on in the past six months.”

(I first met Jesse two years ago this month. I was working out of a gym in the area and they were running a challenge they called Rock Your Rolls Off with a local radio station in which each of the 4 trainers/fitness professionals on staff would train a contestant for free for two months and then the winning contestant (who lost the most fat even though it turned out to only be overall weight) would get a free 1 year membership to the gym and a bunch of assorted prizes that were donated. The only issue was that the trainers including myself were independent contractors who didn’t work for the gym, we worked for ourselves and weren’t paid by the gym, we actually paid rent to the gym to run our business there, so the gym telling/asking us to do this, not paying us and giving us no real initiative or reason to do so was more or less obnoxious and they had no legal way to “make us” do this and I was busy so I wasn’t going to.

But I am glad I changed my mind and Im thankful I got to meet Jesse, help him transform his life, be part of his journey and am proud to call him a Twoguns success story and friend. Happy 2 Years brother.)

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