A Short Story

In this life change journey, 16 months and counting, I’ve learned a lot about myself, noticed a lot of changes and forced myself to do things that I didn’t think were possible at any point and time when I was closing in on 400 pounds. Some are small changes, like the toning in my shoulders and the disappearance of a chin or two. Some changes were large, like the fact that had the endurance to actually do some light jogging (even though my feet are still sore).

While all of those (and other) things are great, there’s one thing that I can say with certainty lets me know that I’m officially starting to turn the corner. I felt comfortable wearing shorts out in public.

After high school, when I ballooned up to 330 pounds (my first “oh my God, I’m HUGE” moment), I felt like I could never wear shorts again. So I didn’t. The summers of 1999, 2000 and 2001 were pretty hot. Ridiculously so. I didn’t care. I refused to even wear shorts around the house and when I started living on campus at Del State, in the dorms. I became a jeans in public/sweatpants in private kinda guy. The only time anyone could catch me wearing shorts is wearing a towel going to use the dorm showers. That was it.

This pattern continued through graduation (the first time I lost a crazy amount of weight in 2007, I sweated it off because I was so layered up), my adult life and so on. I just couldn’t be seen in shorts. No matter how hot it was in the summer, I kept wearing jeans and probably suffocating all manner of man region in the process.

Then a funny thing happened last June. A few folks from Twitter were having a cookout/tweet-up in PG County Maryland and I just KNEW I couldn’t look like an ass. I decided to buy shorts. But what kind? I had been given the word from my family that jean shorts were no longer hot as they were in 1998 and basketball shorts would’ve been entirely to informal. Cargo shorts it was.

I purchased a beige pair from XL Big & Tall and they fit great and to my surprise, they looked decent. So I went with it, sucked up another fear of being around people and had a good time. I felt so free riding back 50 East along the Eastern Shore with my window down, breeze hitting my knees and calves and for the first time in years…it really felt like summer.

But I continued to wear sweats on my 2-a-day walks. I hadn’t completely gotten over the fear yet. Then today came. It was 80-something degrees when I went out for my afternoon walk at 3:45 p.m., so I said “let me throw on these basketball shorts.” And nothing happened but the usual stroll. If anything, I felt lighter and quicker.

So why is this such a big deal? Maybe to no one but me, but it took a level of assuredness that I didn’t even know I had. I felt great, I wasn’t worried what anyone would say. I just blasted music in my earbuds and hiked like I’ve done almost every day since 01/01/12.

I know I still have a long ways to go of getting totally comfortable with myself, but the short of it is I’m not afraid to feel comfortable in what I wear anymore. That’s a big step in the right direction.

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