Hi. I’m fat.
That’s all I am.
I’m not Dan. Not really. I’m also not Dad. I’m not Lover. I’m not Son or Brother or Friend.
I’m just fat.
And I’m tired. I’ve been running for a very long time.
Toward something. Away from something. I don’t really know. I only know that I’ve been running.
And I’m tired. Tired of running. Tired of why I’m running. And more than anything, tired of caring so much that I feel like I have to run.
Of course, I am speaking in metaphors. I actually hate running for real, so I almost never do it. My hips hate it. My back hates it. My knees hate it. My lungs hate it.
If a bear started coming after me in the woods, I probably wouldn’t run. Being eaten by that bear seems like it would be far less painful and arduous to me than running from it would.
But that isn’t to say that I don’t move my body.
On Mondays, you can now usually find me getting jiggy with it in a dance class at my gym. You know that look of a fish flopping, trying to survive in an environment that leaves him unable to breathe? Yes, that’s me on Mondays.
On Tuesdays you can usually find me pumping some mad iron with all the guys at my gym whose necks and heads are somehow one and the same. I’m pretty sure they laugh at me as I go, but I’m too busy trying not to be defeated by the 30 lb. dumbbells to notice.
On Wednesdays I can usually be found at circuit class, running from Nazi station to Nazi station, doing things like gorilla crawls, mountain climbers, and plank lifts. If you look through the windows into the class, you’ll easily find me. Just look for the giant puddle of sweat on the floor, then shift your eyes to whatever lump of a man is heaving and huffing directly above it. That’s me.
Thursdays, I like to go for a long walk. People honk at me and whistle sometimes. I have never figured out why. They must like my booty.
Fridays I rest.
But only because Saturdays or Sundays I try to hike. And by hike, I mean that I constantly beg my hiking companions to slow the **** down so that the vultures stop circling.
Oh, and the Farmer’s Daughter and I recently threw racquetball into the weekly mix, too. So yeah, there’s that too.
This is my (physical) life.
A life that does not include running. At least not very often.
What it does include is a lot of good feelings.
When I’m drenched in sweat after a circuit class, I hurt like hell but I feel good.
When I reach the top of a mountain, I may be praying for the angel of death to come release me from my pain, but I feel good.
In fact, any time I exercise, or accomplish some huge physical feat, or do something that simply gets my body moving, I feel good.
You’ve all exercised. You all know that feeling.
But let me tell you what doesn’t feel good.
Everything else.
You see, I’m still fat. And the healthier I get, and the skinnier I get, and the more in shape I get, the fatter I get.
I know, it doesn’t make sense, so let me explain.
When I started this major trek toward being in the best shape of my life, I also had an idea of exactly what I wanted my body to eventually look like.
For the first time in my life, I wanted a six pack. I wanted big shoulders and huge arms. I wanted my flabby lats gone, my love handles obliterated, and the rest of my body to be toned and beautiful. I wanted to finally be that sexy underwear model of a man that I knew I could be with serious dedication and hard work.
I hired a trainer. I jumped in head first. And… I started to see a little bit of progress.
And then a little more.
And then a little more.
And something interesting started to happen.
The skinnier and more toned I got, the fatter I felt.
The more in shape I got, the more out of shape I felt like I was.
And the more I made myself look good to the masses, the less attractive I felt like I was.
I’m sure that the vast majority of people would look at that photo above and think, damn. He is not fat. He is not even chubby. He looks great. He looks muscular. And it’s definitely working.
Maybe it’s true.
But I can’t see it.
I literally can’t see it.
Others of you will look at that picture and immediately notice every flaw that is noticeable in it. He could lose 20 lbs. He could tone up his arms. He could square up his chest. He could work on those shoulders. He could fix that slightly overlapping tooth. The list could go on.
And maybe that’s true.
This is what I see.
It’s literally all I see. Every single day.
Well, that’s not true. It’s literally what I see every day that I am working on becoming this man that I think I can someday be.
But you see, sometimes I look in the mirror and I think I look great. I think I look damn great, as a matter of fact. I can see my progression. I can see the contrast between then and now. I can appreciate the hard work I’ve put into it. I can believe that I’m attractive.
And here is where the irony comes in.
The only time I feel that way, is when I am not being overly crazy about my health. The only time I feel that way is when I am skipping the gym here and there, and I am eating the stuff I love from time to time, and I am doing the things that are keeping me from ever being that guy in the underwear ad.
In other words, the only time I feel really good, and whole, and beautiful, and attractive, is when I’m not stressing about everything I do to my body and everything I put into it.
And that’s what I realized, looking into the mirror yesterday.
I have been running from myself.
I haven’t been running away from fatness. I also haven’t been running away from the ghosts of an unhealthy past.
No. I have been running away from me. And only me. That is who I have been running from.
I am Dan.
I enjoy a torture session on the rowing machine and I also enjoy my mom’s homemade peach cobbler. I enjoy flopping like that dead fish with hips that can’t lie in dance class, and I also enjoy ordering pizza with my kid, renting a movie, and downing popcorn while we share some special time together. I enjoy seeing how much I can lift at the gym and I also enjoy stuffing a fresh chewy chocolate chip cookie into my face when I’m having a hard day.
That is me.
I am Dan. I am not fat.
I’m also not skinny.
I’m just Dan.
And I actually like me and my body and myself just the way I am right now.
This is what I realized.
I am, for some reason, actually happy with who I am and the muscle, the bones, and the flub that exist beneath these clothes.
I don’t need to lose 20 lbs. to be attractive.
I don’t need to starve myself of the good things of life to be healthy.
And, I don’t need to chase someone else’s ideal of what I should be looking like.
I am tired of running. From myself, and toward the ideals and expectations of others.
This is what I realized.
I am a little chubby. I am.
I have trouble areas. I do.
I jiggle and squish and do all sorts of weird things that skinny ripped people don’t do.
And for some reason, I’m suddenly okay with that.
Maybe it’s age that made this unexpectedly happen. I don’t know.
Maybe it’s the dreams I’ve been having lately.
Maybe it’s getting tired of the irritability and crankiness that accompanies a life deprived of nearly all delicious food.
Maybe it’s simply looking at that picture above and thinking about two truths that only I know.
As Sarah pointed the camera at me, I was feeling extremely vulnerable and fat. I was folding my arms to try and cover that up.
And, I was in an overly down mood because we had just passed through one of the most famous markets in America, past all the delicious delicacies, pastries, goodies, and snacks, and neither one of us ate any of it because we were more worried about being fat.
And that’s not okay with me.
And maybe that’s why I suddenly am so tired of running.
I’m tired of missing so much of life trying to be something for whom exactly?
I’m tired of worrying more about the weight of every decision and less about the quality of the experiences I’m walking right past.
I’m tired of being imbalanced.
I am healthy. Heck. I’m in the best shape of my life now.
I’m also a little chubby.
I also love exercise.
I also love food.
I am balanced. I am in a good place.
So why am I running away from that? Why am I trying so hard to leave that balance for something else? The further I run, the more imbalanced I become.
Why am I doing this to myself?
I don’t know, but it’s exhausting. I’ve been trying to do it for a long time now.
And I’m done with it.
I’m not going to miss 95% of life to weigh 5% less.
I don’t need to.
I am Dan. And I am not fat.
I am not stopping exercising.
I am simply going to accept myself for the person that my hard work has made me, and be okay doing it. For the first time, ever.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

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