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The Death of Fat Bastardé (pronounced Bas-tar-day)

BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs - Beachwood BBQ - Seal Beach, CA

Roughly four years before my daughter was born a man named Mauricio re-imagined me into a 173 pound superhero. In other words, he worked me out until I reached machine status. I ran up every staircase I encountered without even the slightest increase in my pulse. Push ups, pull ups, curls, crunches, plyometrics --- whatever it was I did what I was told, never complaining, even when I thought I was going to pass out. I was all business. I had no time for silly distractions like iPods. I got my rush from the adrenaline flowing through my bloodstream and my surroundings --- the terrain of Brooklyn's Prospect Park where I trained, the rustle of the wind through the trees. The more healthy I became the more it reflected in my diet. By the fall of 2005 I had eaten so much swordfish I was probably glowing like a Christmas tree. I didn't touch sweets, I was eating 5-6 times a day and always researching the newest latest trends in health food. No one, especially the woman who would become my wife, had any desire to engage in a conversation with me about diet and exercise. When her friends would ask her why she wouldn't work out with me, her answer was simple: "Eric is insane. I can't mess [she used another word] with him." I can't say I disagree. I was completely indoctrinated with Mauricio's, "Your body is your temple" ideology. And I didn't give a damn because I looked like this:

Bahamas, 2005 - Full blown health-psychopath, complete with crooked teeth.

In 2009, I am but a shadow of that man. Better put, that man would get lost in the shadow I cast now. On July 4, 2009, I decided to stand on the scale in my bathroom and stared, dumbfounded when the digital readout displayed "206". I got on the scale again and it redisplayed what I had just seen. I picked it up, checked the battery and did it again. Same thing. I looked at the half-length mirror across the room at myself, still physically bulked, thanks to carrying a 36-pound baby up and down three flights of stairs daily. But my ever-puffing paunch had a slight hang-over, as in hang-over my waist.

"Oh, heyell no!" I said to my reflection, a man I immediately named, Fat Bastardé.

Around this same time, I had been toying around with running with the wife, managing my depression over being unemployed between bowls of Frosted Flakes and hot dogs and french fries. The two times my wife and I went running through the neighborhood, I trailed behind her like those women you see running with their little toy dogs, bless them, they're so cute with their little legs.

I don't have little legs.

Pissed and distraught I had to make a change...FAST! So, I made the following changes, cold turkey:
  1. I finally stopped researching running shoes and finally bought some white, silver and blue Nike Shox. (I'm into silver running shoes. It dates back to my high school days of believing silver shoes made me run faster). My busted silver Pumas could no longer be an excuse for why I wasn't running properly.

  2. Ice cream - gone. Frosted Flakes - gone. Hot dogs - gone. Chips - gone. I pushed all that stuff to the weekend (and even then, I don't have much of a taste for it) and all before 7 in the evening. After 8, I'll only entertain a salad. After 9, I won't eat.

  3. I got back on the fruit and veggies kick and I threw some new stuff into the mix. My most hated, grapefruit. I read several articles touting grapefruit's ability to lower cholesterol, stimulate appetite and aid in weight loss. Ground cinnamon, a spice I only enjoy in extreme moderation, is known to control blood sugar and aid red blood cells' ability to process glucose, among about a billion other things. It sounded good to me so I went for it. I began to snack on broccoli and freshly popped popcorn (no butter) the way I had downed chips and fries.

  4. I could've very easily thrown myself head first into the gym and quit a week or two later. Or I could've paced myself and gotten a big chest and arms to go along with my growing gut. However, I'm not into the bear look so I decided to first build my endurance before I considered doing a push up or curling a dumbbell. I charted out a path in my neighborhood. I don't even know how long it is. All I know is that I'm dead tired by the time I'm done. The first day I really began to run I felt like I was dragging two bowling balls behind me. The next day I ran, I felt like I had a cinder block hanging from my neck. By the end of that week I realized that there were no bowling balls or cinder blocks. It was just me. Neither my mind nor my muscles were prepared to hurtle 206 pounds down the street. I believe wholeheartedly that this is one of the reasons I ended up at the Foot Doctor.

  5. I made one promise to myself: no matter how tired I might get on a run or how tempted I might be by a cupcake, I can never give up. If I can't run the whole way I should walk as quickly as possible, never sitting down, never stopping, never cheating. The cost is not giving up on a diet or and exercise plan. The cost is giving up on myself and as a Man, Dad and Husband I have too much to do and I owe too much to myself, my kids, and my wife to not be in peak condition. My philosophy is simple: control what I can, the rest I can't worry about...but control what I can.

I climbed on the scale this morning, exactly one month after I did last month and the scale told me I was 197.5. I lost 8.5 pounds in 4 weeks, roughly 2 pounds a week. I've got 25 pounds to go, technically 3 more months. But the human body isn't technical, so it'll either happen sooner or later than then depending on what choices I make and stick to. Fat Bastardé is dead. Now, Fatty Von Carcass has taken his place until I figure out a way to defeat him also.

As we men, who are husbands and fathers, drive full speed ahead into middle age, it's our responsibility to keep up the shop for the sake of those who rely on us. I've got a fourteen year-old who's looking to assert his physical superiority over me (that's not happening) and a preschooler who's starting to get her legs under her. I have no intention of having either one of them leaving me winded.

As an African American man who has watched so many members of my family die painful, needless deaths due to disease spawned from poor nutrition, lack of health care, and superstition over doctors, it's even more critical that we get it together and keep it there.

There's always something to Holler about. Even on the good days.

Stay tuned.

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