I am sharing my 12-month journey of triumph, failures, and self-discovery.
Last year, I experienced having cardiovascular problems, such as chest pain, easy fatigability, and abnormal ECG tracings. At such a young age, I started to take BP pills. I was advised by my doctor to rest for a month. I then decided to take the challenge of losing weight.
But more than the medical reasons in making such an immense lifestyle change, I was greatly challenged by this particular social issue. For a 6-foot guy like me, being obese is quite uncommon. Because of this, I was fat-shamed.
I was shamed. All 250 pounds of it.
I became a outcast from society’s penchant for a slender image. I became a victim of social ridicule as I was equated to either an eating machine or a lazy Snorlax.
I would always distress PUV drivers, especially pedicab and tricycle drivers who would lament my heavy load. I cannot forget the dismayed stare of jeepney passengers whenever I board the vehicle, especially when there is only one vacant seat left.
Just when I thought that I should only live through awkward social situations, my work became affected as well. People would tell me, “Nurse ka pa naman, ikaw pa ‘tong obese (You’re a nurse and yet you’re obese),” or “‘Di ba dapat alam mo pa’no mag-healthy living (Aren’t you supposed to know healthy living)?” In fact, I almost did not pass my medical exam as part of the employment process partly because of my weight.
But the greatest impact of this crisis was in my personal life. Mockery was everywhere, even from my own family and friends. I have been boxed in this weak and irresponsible persona.
I was judged by society. All 250 pounds of it.
Since when did we start to equate weight with personal capabilities? Since when did we associate obesity with liability?
I remember my college professor say, “When you’re down, there’s no way but up!” Depression was converted into motivation. So, I enrolled myself in a gym wherein I would work out 3 to 4 times a week. I joined 3 fun runs and 2 hiking activities this year. My diet was also monitored, having to reduce my rice intake.
In all of these restrictions and exertions, I painstakingly persevered, on top of my toxic nursing career and hectic college student life. It was a daunting task, as I slowly changed my lifestyle, but I persevered.
I persevered. All 250 pounds of it.
After 10 months, I exceeded my goal of losing 50 pounds, as I breached the 65-pound mark come second week of October. Triumphant as I was, I strived to lose more. The desire to satisfy society’s norms fueled my late-night workouts. I did not mind the draining work and school days. I literally pushed myself to the gym, though my body told me to rest.
Boy was it a treat! I disposed of my loose clothing as I now only wear slim-fit shirts. I had numerous trips to the tailor for size alterations. Rejection rates on dates became very dismal. Shoulder bones began to reappear. Everyone in the office started to notice the weight loss and I was commended for it. I even became the envy of many who would want to lose weight.
For a very long time, I felt happy inside. The mental gratuity for each compliment gave me the drive to push myself to the limit. I thought sky is the limit! But I was so wrong. I am my own mortal limit.
‘I lost my identity in the process’
My body took its toll. All 250 pounds of it.
My blood pressure started to rise again. I had tension headaches. I would feel tired, dizzy, and haggard, even though my work day was just beginning. Concentration levels dwindled. I would sleep through meetings, conferences, and even movie dates.
In turn, my work and schooling became affected. My expected outputs were either poorly or not delivered. Sick days, tardiness, and absences set in. I showed up late on my dates, much to the dismay of my partner.
In order to satisfy a sensationalized slender image, I had put my health in danger. I became blinded by a Herculean idea of reinventing myself into a fitter and more muscular guy. I reduced my worth into someone who is Instagram-worthy of gym selfies.
I completely ignored the reason why I sacrificed a lot – to be healthier. I was blithely unaware of the fact that I lost my identity in the process.
I have abused myself. All 250 pounds of it.
I may have lost a lot of pounds, but I still did not gain confidence and self-acceptance.
I may have achieved my goal, but I failed to learn my lessons.
I failed to learn that loving myself is much more important.
I failed to learn that body-shaming should never be the reason for people to reinvent themselves.
I failed to learn that we can never please everyone, no matter how much we try. Trust me, whether I gained or lost a few pounds, people will still say something.
I failed to learn that motivation should start from within, not from the people around.
Sure, I simply cannot immediately eradicate this culture in our society. But what I can do is to create a culture of acceptance and contentment within me. I intend to focus on what’s more important – me, myself, and I.
To you who read this, my mesage is simple: Don’t “weight-in-vain.” Love yourself first.
You are valuable. And you can do this. – Rappler.com
Jerland Casilan is a registered nurse. He first posted this piece on X, Rappler’s free self-publishing platform.