Breaking Down in Fred Meyer

by Be Heard on May 29, 2013

in Health, Style & Beauty

On our way back into Seattle from a nice, relaxing visit with the in-laws (no, really), my wife and I decided to stop at Fred Meyer for some much-needed household supplies. As Lindy was busy filling the basket with useful sundries, I foolishly thought, “Hey, we’re going to a film festival in a few days. I should probably buy a nice sweater or something so I look half way presentable.”

Extra large. That seemed about right. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t shopped for new clothes in a while (I think the last time was for the L.A. premiere of our previous film, This Is Ours). I tried it on and, surprise! surprise!, it was less than a stellar fit; I looked lumpy, bulbous and
ridiculous, to be precise.

Like a sausage of fat stuffed into a sheath of gray fabric.  A sausage with man-boobs.

Naturally, I got mad at the sweater.  After all, it must have been its fault; certainly not mine. Some fault of manufacturing, I reasonably concluded.  I harrumphed my way out of the clothing section and started bitching to Lindy.

Deep down, I knew that I had been steadily gaining weight over the last year. I just didn’t want to admit it. I had clothes that sorta-kinda worked – old, worn-in jeans and some rather forgiving polos* – and heck, if something started not to fit, I could always just blame a wash cycle.  And, of course, my trusty, nearly threadbare jacket that I wore pretty much every day. I mean, it’s Seattle – it’s cold and rainy (cue the Unbridled Self-Delusion theme song).

* For those of you who may not struggle with The Fatness, a note about shirts: button-ups look wonderful when standing; when sitting, my abdomen compresses in on itself and expands outward, causing the poor, innocent buttons to strain with all their might, screaming for their lives.

So right. Back to the bitching and moaning. Why do I even bother? Clothes never fit me! Fucking Fred Meyer! Ugh, I’ll just wear my jacket the whole time! Whatever. You know, pretty much like a five-year-old.  No, exactly like a five-year-old.

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to truncate the rest of the conversation; while a few moments are missing, rest assured: it is emotionally accurate…

“I think you have crutches,” Lindy said.

“What the hell?” I snorted in petulant, pugnacious retort.

“Your polos, your jacket – they’re just crutches. You wear them every day.”  She sighed here, knowing what was sure to unfold.

“You know I love you, right?”

“Yeah…”

“You’re hiding. Your jacket is basically a security blanket.  You haven’t felt good about yourself in what, months?  Years?  And so you wrap yourself up in clothes you think are hiding everything you hate about yourself.”

In an act of remarkable love, she punched me in the face with a brick of razor-sharp insight.

I mean, I had thought all of those things, but I dared not say them aloud.  And to hear it coming from someone else’s mouth – to see a reflection of my own self-loathing – shook me to the core.

But first, I had to yell and throw a fit.

And cry.

And have a meltdown.

Right in front of an old lady just trying to buy a box of tissues.  Sorry, old lady.

It was all true, of course.  And with just a few sentences, my wife was able expose the throbbing nerve of my insecurities to the fresh air of reality.  It hurt.  It fucking hurt.

The old lady quietly squeaked her cart away from us.

And then, as the shock of self-realization and the pain of vomiting up two years’-worth (she was right) of hating myself subsided… relief.

It felt good.

I actually felt good.

I had finally confronted a part of myself that I had tried so hard to ignore.

And we got paper towels.

The psychology of The Fatness is a tricky beast.  At least for me, one way I acquiesced feelings of inadequacy, disgust, revulsion and animus was to eat – food is delicious and the act of eating itself is oddly cathartic.  But, of course, eating (and, in my case, over-eating) leads to The Fatness II: Electric Bugaloo.  Which leads to more of those feelings.  Which leads to more eating.  Downward spiral, indeed.

Couple that with a natural tendency toward laziness and the pervasive thought that weight-loss through diet and exercise is a daunting, insurmountable, Sisyphean odyssey, and you have the perfect petri dish for cultivating a spare tire.

Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I have sat on the couch shoveling lunch meat into my face uttering that ugly, terrible, self-defeating question: “why bother?”

Hey, “Why Bother”?  Yeah, you, over there.  Standing next to “I’m Not Worth It” and “Whatever.”  Why don’t you go fuck yourself.

So.  Now.  Revelation is great.  But having a plan of action is even better.

STEP 1: Dress nicer.  Create and cultivate confidence through my appearance.  Another “funny” (not so much “ha ha” funny, more “I should just kill myself” funny) trick of The Fatness: I never want to buy new clothes because I always think, “Yeah, but I’m not happy with the way I look. If I buy clothes now, I’m effectively incentivizing myself to not be healthier.”  It almost makes sense… if you’re a crazy person.  What happens when I think like this?  I end up wearing the same clothes for six fucking months and feeling miserable about myself.  Rinse and repeat.  Did I mention “downward spiral” yet?

Nicer jeans, nicer shirts, slacks.  Yes.  If I start to dress better, I’ll start to feel better, which will make me want to act better.  I have actually done this experiment before.  It works.  I’m just an idiot and chose to ignore the facts in favor of feelings.  Good job, brain!  It does mean having to shop in the Big ‘n’ Tall section for now, but that will soon change.

STEP 2: Eat better, eat less. I do generally eat food that’s good for me.  I just eat way too much of it.  Like, probably three times as much. Every meal, every day.  This needs to stop.  But, I also need to not kid myself into thinking that I always eat well; I need to kill my vices (primarily candy and salty snacks).

Now, I think we all know that diets don’t work.  Lifestyle changes do.  This is going to be hard and also has to be a multi-pronged.  First, I need to make radical changes in consumption so that I can become conscious and aware of what I’m eating and how much I actually need to eat.  Then, I need to find the equilibrium point that makes me feel satiated but not full (my general modus operandi when eating is to gorge myself until my stomach pleads for mercy; this is probably bad).  And then I need to make sure that every time I do eat, I’m making choices that are fulfilling.

For my weird brain, this basically means two things: a) math; and b) not thinking of it as saying “NO” to certain types of food, but rather saying “YES” to not feeling like shit an hour after I eat it.  “Will this food make me feel good, both digestively and emotionally?”  The math part is a simple input/output equation.  I burn X calories per day, thus I need to consume Y calories per day to create a deficit.  I am fully aware that our bodies are not perfect machines in this regard, but at least it’s something quantitative that I can hold onto.  Remember: my brain is weird.

STEP 3: Exercise. I’m going to start this slow, doing things I can do by myself at home (partially because I fear if I put too much on my plate, pun intended, I will find it too easy to give up).  One might call it a caveman workout – no gyms, no weird equipment.  The reason for this is that I really, really, really abhor gyms.  I know they serve a purpose, but God damn if that’s not the quickest way to deter myself from actually doing the work.  I know my stumbling blocks, I know where my hurdles are, no matter how irrational and stupid they might be.  Time to work with them instead of always fighting against them and ultimately failing.

STEP 4: Be public about it. Please know and understand that what I’m going to share with you terrifies me.  First: back in 2008, I had a very similar epiphany about my weight and went on a nearly yearlong journey in which I lost 60 pounds (from 295 to 235).  I have since undone 67% of that.  This, to me, is an enormous failure, something I regret with every fiber of my being, something that REALLY, REALLY makes me hate myself.  But, we know where those feelings lead.  As Lindy said – I think by this time we had moved into a quiet corner of the Fred Meyer so that I’d stop making a scene – “You need to forgive yourself.”  I immediately wanted to make a Good Will Hunting joke, but she was right.

“OK.  I made a mistake.  But it’s not going to define me.  I forgive myself so that I may move forward.”

Second: back at the height of my initial weight-loss campaign, I shared my weekly statistics with a group of friends via the blog I had at the time.  This was so incredibly helpful; it kept me accountable.  So I’m going to do it again.  Successes and failure, I’m going to lay it all out there.

Yes, this is terribly narcissistic, and yes, almost borderline exhibitionist, but fuck it.  It works.

To start, all the numbers: I currently weigh 275.5 pounds.  My waist (at the belly-button) is 50.75″, my neck is 17″, my chest is 48.5″ and my thigh (when measured at a right angle) is 25.25″.

Sweet baby Jesus.  Just typing those out makes me not want to publish this.  But I’m going to.

There.  I just wrote that I would.  Now I have to do it.  Wait, hang on, let me rip the delete button out of my keyboard first.  There we go.

And so it begins.

For me, this is not just about losing weight.  I want to feel good – both about myself and in the more objective sense.  I want to be healthy.  I don’t want to die of a heart-attack.  I don’t want to get diabetes (which runs in my family).  I don’t want my degenerative, herniated discs to act up again.  I’d love it if my left ankle stopped aching every day.

My body is a tool, and it needs to be able to do all the things I want in life.

Also, I’d really love for a stranger to come up to me in a bar and tell me I’m sexy.  What?  Not all the goals can be lofty and meaningful.

Kris BKris Boustedt is a filmmaker and educator in Seattle, WA.  He and his wife Lindy make movies together. And yes, they’re still married. Their most recent feature, This Is Ours, is now available on Amazon Prime: tiofilm.com.  He also enjoys getting distracted on the street by small dogs.  firstsightproductions.com // @krisandlindy // facebook.com/kris.boustedt

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Kristen May 29, 2013 at 8:51 am

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for this post – for your honesty and sharing! It has struck a chord with me today. Wishing us both luck on our journeys!!

Melinda May 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

I know exactly how you feel!! I’ve been struggling with my weight my entire life…that’s gonna be 45 years in July. I’ve had meltdowns too…once at a freakin wedding reception because I didn’t want to walk across the room to get my then husband. We had to leave because I couldn’t get my shit together and guests were starting to stare. yeah-good times -__- HOWEVER for some reason, last Monday, I got my badonkeydonk outta bed at 5:45a, put on my tennies and started walking. You know, just around the block, almost one mile, in less than 20 minutes. I have been doing it every day since (okay, I took 2 days off because of rain) (just moved to Beaverton, OR from Pasadena, CA and the weather is a bitch!). SO, my point-you can do this dude!! I am old, tired, have a million kids, was in a bad marriage for 17 years, had a baby at 41 (almost killed me literally) and if I have hope and know I can get this old body back into semi tip top shape, I know you can too! I love that your wife is so honest but not cruel-she is an angel :) Do this for you because you know you deserve better for your awesome self and dammit, show that effing jacket that you can wear the hell out of button up!! I believe in you man!!

Audra May 29, 2013 at 10:26 am

Thank you for your honest post!

Matt May 29, 2013 at 11:06 am

Great posting Kris. I, too, went through a bit of an epiphany a couple years ago when my Dr. used the “O” word to me (obese) and I decided to make changes. I, too, went on Facebook and announced my decisions to exercise more and eat less. Within 3 months I had gone down from 205 to 175 and promptly shaved my head as a goal (what the hell, I was going bald anyway). Since that time I’ve bounced between 175 and 185. If you want my unsolicited advice (or even if you don’t), here’s what I did:

1. I found exercises I liked to do. This may sound crazy (but logical) but don’t do any exercise that you dislike. You won’t do it. So I didn’t join a gym. I didn’t run my flabby body up and down the street. I dusted off our Wii and using wii-fit and EA Sports Active, started an in-home (ie: private) work-out routine. I even did exercises while watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

2. Became more conscious of what I was eating. Started reading packaging more. Started calculating calories in and calories burned. Trying to limit my meals to 500 calories each.

3. Drank a ton more water. At least a half-gallon a day.

4. Stopped eating after 9 p.m. Typically I go to bed at midnight. So that’s three hours of no food and I get up at 6 a.m., that’s another 6 hours of no food.

5. Finally: have a meal a week where you “splurge.” I’m a sucker for all-you-can-eat Indian buffet. It’s okay to do this once a week. Just not every day.

Good luck, Kris, I have faith in you.

Nuala Reilly May 29, 2013 at 11:08 am

What a beautiful post. What an amazing thing to share. Thank you!!

Kim May 29, 2013 at 11:25 am

Thanks for sharing! Good luck! I look forward to seeing your progress.

Kris Boustedt May 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Hey everyone! Thanks for reading! :-)

I just wanted to add: I originally posted this article on Facebook back in January 2013. Between then and late March, I lost 20 pounds and 2.75″ off my waist.

I must say, however, that over the past two months I have totally fallen off the wagon. I mean, I held steady on my weight and kept eating healthier foods (mostly), but I gave up on pushing forward. Right now, my brain is screaming at me, “But you were super busy with stuff! I mean, how could you possibly focus on being healthy?” My brain… sometimes I want to punch it in the face. The only actual explanation is that I’ve been lazy. End of story.

When Brittany emailed me last night and asked if she could post this today, it was exactly the kick in the ass I needed. Just to re-read what I wrote, to feel again what I felt back in January, was invigorating.

Back on the horse I go! :-)

In March (when I hit the 20lb milestone), I posted this update to Facebook. For whatever it may be worth.

***
WHAT WORKS
– The best thing that I have going in my favor right now is that my taste in food is most definitely changing (save french fries and tater tots; they’ll always be delicious). There are, of course, mishaps and cravings (see: tots) but by and large, my body and my mind seem to be working together.

– I’ve generally stopped late-night snacking. It used to be one of my favorite things and with the exception of the occasional trip to Yogurt Land or Menchies [for those not in Seattle, two frozen yogurt stores within walking distance of our house], I’ve managed to keep any deserts/snacks limited to clementines (SO YUMMY) and sometimes a handful of chocolate chips (actually, if I’m being honest, less yummy than the clementines).

– I’ve stopped sneaking food. Another previously-favorite past-time: running into the kitchen and eating leftovers while Lindy was in the shower (you know, so she wouldn’t hear all the SHAME). Or stopping by a grocery store on the way home and getting a sandwich before dinner. Or going to 7-11 and getting Gardettos snack-mix when I was supposed be going for a walk. Yeah, I’m awesome.

I was never proud of moments like these (and so many others… SO MANY), and I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand why I even I did them in the first place, but I don’t do it anymore. The greatest part: I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself of these clandestine pork-fests. I just stopped; there’s no desire to resume.

WHAT DOESN’T
– Overeating. This is a real problem with me. While I’m consuming far healthier foods, I still have the significant issue of consuming too much of them. If I start eating, it’s very hard to stop; if I don’t eat, it’s easy to not start. But this presents a rather serious health problem: not eating all day is bad… for a lot of reasons. I know this.

For instance: if we’re out with friends and we get tater tots or something for the table (yes, I know), I always say to myself: “OK, you can have a few, but just don’t over-do it.” And that’s how it starts. I have a few, and then I stop. And then, a few minutes later, I have a few more. And then more. And then I ate the whole fucking basket and cry in the bathroom.

Or, take the other night. Lindy was out with friends, so I made dinner for myself — a particularly delicious batch of chicken/veggie stir-fry. I made enough so that Lindy would have some left-overs when she got home (I try to be a good husband at least once a month). Can you guess what happened? YEP. I ate it all. So not only did I literally make myself sick for the next 15 hours (ugh), but I also felt like a total asshole for stealing dinner from my wife. I’m a real catch, ladies.

I felt full. And yet I kept going back for more. And then I felt stuffed. And yet I kept going back for more. That is fucked up. And I don’t know how to stop.

– Aversion to exercise. I’ve been walking a couple of miles twice a week with a friend, and I love doing that. Like, a lot. I actually look forward to it. Mostly for the company, let’s be honest, but when we finish — we walk around Greenlake or Northgate Mall (yes, like old ladies) depending on the weather — it makes the rest of my day so much more awesome. More energy, clearer thinking.

But when I’m left to my own devices… I’d so much rather sit on the couch. What can I say? I just need to get off my ass. I just need to stop being lazy about it.

MY FAVORITE LUNCH
Wanted to share something useful that I stumbled across by accident.

– Microwave a steamer-bags of vegetables (I like the Steamfresh Pure & Simple Blends).
– Put the vegetables in a tupperware container.
– Pour a can of soup over the veggies (my pick: Progresso Light Chicken Vegetable Rotini).
– Microwave the whole shebang.

Enjoy a delicious, healthy and filling 280 calorie lunch in about 8 minutes. This concoction leaves me feeling energized and satiated all afternoon. I love it.
***

Anne May 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Kris, you ROCK! Thank you for sharing.

Lindy B May 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Here to remind you everyday that you deserve to be happy and healthy. Whatever that looks like. Love you forever! :-)

Taylor May 29, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Great post Kris and I love to see a comment from your wife here too…support from the closest person to you in life is always the best! A lot of what you wrote resonated with me and it is great to see it from a male perspective from time to time (makes us ladies feel like we are not alone in our crazy brains). Thank you for your honesty and keep up the good fight…I will be fighting too! Also, Yay for Seattle!

Houser May 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Thanks for sharing this story buddy. It’s all too familiar (especially my rigid shirt washing routine as if one happens to get dried in a drier I can’t squeeze my lumpy torso into it) You have inspired me to get my ass in gear.

alicia May 30, 2013 at 3:40 am

kris, everything you have said, EVERYTHING, is exactly what i have going on in my brain too. the overeating and not knowing how to stop, the eating in secret so other’s don’t hear/witness/judge and the SHAME. my god, the shame. i hit rock bottom for myself one day when i bought a lite yoghurt & fruit salad (breakfast), a chicken burger (lunch) and a slice of strawberry cheesecake (afternoon tea) from a cafe one morning (bulk buy, planned to put it in the fridge at work) and then ATE THE WHOLE LOT at my desk, in the dark, before my colleagues got there. i promptly forced myself to throw it all up, marched myself into my doc’s office, and declared ‘I have a problem’ before sobbing like a crazy loon. Diagnosis: binge eating disorder.

having said that… knowing the problem and treating the problem are 2 very, very different beasts of burden, and my brain is exactly like yours in that i like eating well and exercising, i see and feel the benefits straight away, but if given any kind of choice, my brain will go all teenage-lazy ass on me and want to sit on the couch and eat lo mein and burger king :(

i have to get on a 14-hour flight later in the year, so i have 5 months to whip at least a few inches off my girth… what has worked for me so far in the last few months: rigid tracking of calories in everything i put in my mouth, drinking a ton of water, walking and cycling (and putting the exercise bike right next to the couch so there’s no excuse to sit and not cycle) and only buying healthy food — and being very aware of the actual sugar/salt/carb quantities in foods i eat.

this post was hugely inspirational to me and i thank you for your candor and humor in discussing something that is so hugely personal :)

Michelle May 30, 2013 at 6:36 am

Kris…
This was so raw and so true and sharing so much of what you are dealing with, really resonated with me and I thank you for being brave and open. I have my own Lindy and he is crazy supportive and I love him for that, but I need to get out of my own mind and just start doing something and then (here is the key for me ) keep doing it, day after day.
Best of luck to you and keep us up to date!

Sophia June 5, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Kris, you are wonderful, and your wife sounds amazing. Thank you for having the tremendous courage to share your story. Please stop being so hard on yourself and focus on the good, too. As i read your post and update, you are making significant progress — you are finding out what works for you (and what doesn’t) and moving forward. I wish you success and happiness.

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