I remember when I weighed just about 375 lbs (170 kg, 26 stone). I was 24 years old, and I SHOULD have been in the prime of my life. Truthfully, it was one of the lowest. Bad diet decisions, mixed next to little activity and denial (“I’m not heavy, I’m active!” or “I wear it well”) turned me into a recluse. I had friends, but I took comfort in solitude. I could eat what I wanted, I didn’t have to worry about how clothes fit, and I could ignore the prospect of dating along with it.
The truth is, when you’re that heavy your whole mindset changes. If I asked you to join me at an amusement park, most people would worry about spending money and remembering to carry a bottle of water. As for me, I worried about my stamina, being able to fit on rides…heck, to this day I still have a slight aversion to turnstiles because of this time in my life.
I was always a comic-book reader. My childhood mentor/tutor gave me Archie comics as an incentive to finish my work on time. For that I thank him, because comics opened up my world and eventually saved my life. As a '90s kid, I loved superheroes en masse. Batman? Cool. Superman? Even cooler. Iron Man? I wanted to be him. But when it came time for me to make changes in my life (to essentially prolong my life) I turned to one, Green Lantern.
Man, gotta love that theme song.
The “Green Lantern Diet" isn’t just about eating things that are green (although that certainly helps). It's about digging deep, understanding that you are in charge of your destiny, and “willing” the change. Ah yes, willpower. Power source for the Green Lantern Corps and a virtue oft-quoted in self-help and weight loss books. Honestly, the concept historically felt vague to me.
“Willpower? Is that like elbow grease?”
Sure people who had “it” did well for themselves, and I was tired of people assuming I didn’t have any because of how I looked. But in the pages of a comic, through the panels of the Green Lantern Corps, the power of will was illustrated to do great things. A Green Lantern is commissioned with a ring. A ring that is the strongest weapon in the universe but it is only as strong as its bearer. As a young adult, the correlation instantly clicked. John Stewart (my personal favorite Lantern) dug deep on a monthly basis, banishing threats to his home planet, galaxy, and universe. The strain on his face was drawn with agonizing detail, but his efforts always came through in the end. Why?
He was tough. He never backed down. He never gave up.
I remember it like it was yesterday. On February 26, 2009 I signed up for an all-night fitness center. It was the kind that never closed, so I had no excuse to not go. I didn’t know much about nutrition, so I started my “healthy-diet” with fast-food sub sandwiches and salads while I continued to learn about my own body. Training sessions were intense, but for the first time in a long time I didn’t quit. That last rep, that last mile, even going back that next day even when I felt “tired” changed the way I looked at life. I was improving my stamina and strength yes, but I was also improving my will.
Once learning how many hours it took on the track to work off a cheesecake, I was less inclined to have that third slice (Haha, I love food – sue me!). The “sensible adult” side of me knows its kind of silly to pull inspiration from a fictional character, but it’s a good thing I don’t listen to that side of me all of the time. That’s what these heroes are: inspirations. Symbols, even.
I’ve lost about 150 pounds since that fateful day at the gym. No word on whether a ring is going to fly in my window. :-)