From the Melanated Man:
For most of my young life I had a normal American childhood. Besides the fact that my parents divorced when I was 10 and I discover only a couple years after their divorce that they ADOPTED me at birth, my childhood was pretty normal. I played my video games, watched my Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, played outside with my friends, and pretty much ate whatever the hell I wanted.
That sounds like a normal, healthy childhood right?! Maybe the playing outside in the SUN. *I had stressors just like every other American kid, so I ate to ease the stress.
I played football in middle school and high school. I played fullback and defensive tackle, so if you are not familiar with the positions, that meant I had to be a hefty boy to play that position. Plus I was lifting weights, so I thought HAD to eat a lot to obtain the energy to sustain the activity. I weighed between 260-270 pounds in high school. Some of it was muscle and most of it was fat.
Unfortunately my football talent did not transfer to the collegiate level; I carried that weight with me to college anyway. I collected that dreadful “Freshmen Fifteen” during my freshmen and sophomore years.
And like everybody else, I thought *gaining weight was normal as you got older since our metabolism slows down as you age.
Plus, *college is stressful, especially if you’re majoring in engineering. So eating was my joy and stress reliever.
My last year in college I became semi-conscious and decided that I wanted to lose some weight. And I did; I dropped down from 275 pounds to 210 pounds around my graduation. I only ate less of the bad stuff, not totally cut it out; then I exercised more often.
I had one more year of
indoctrination college, so my stress level was pretty low of course.
Looks scrumptious, doesn’t it?!
I used to eat your regular 3 meals a day from a child to a young adult, plus snacks. I was a growing boy. I ate the normal palette: from fried chicken to steak and ribs, from OVERCOOKED collard greens to sweet potato soufflé, from pecan pies to red velvet cakes and king sized Snickers bars. I used to LOVE some Barq’s Root Beet, especially that rare Barq’s Red Cream Soda you can only find at movie theaters. Of course I loved sweet tea as well. I would destroy all-you-can- eat buffets with ease. I WAS A GROWING BOY REMEMBER?!
…Now back to the story.
I thought I really accomplished something with that weight loss. Not to mention I was receiving my civil engineering degree at the same time. Life was good; I was on Cloud Nine.
And then it was downhill from there.
I started working for a small BLACK-OWNED civil engineering firm, alternating from office work to field work on regular occasions. At the same time I’m trying to balance a long-distance relationship with my fiancée. So the stressors of getting paid kibbles and bits as new employee, and not seeing my woman that often by eating. ENJOYING myself eating. I gain a couple pounds here and there; slowly but surely, the BIG GUY is coming back.
Two years after graduation, I technically still have a job with the firm, but work is so slow those kibbles and bits becomes almost non-existent. Not to mention my fiancée is pregnant, with two years of medical school to finish. So I continue to eat…
…Another two years later, I am out of work with a fiancée, an infant child and another one on the way.
At this point, my weight had reached 290 pounds!!! Ain’t that a bitch?!
(More background on the situation…)
Just to give a better understanding of my plight at this point, not only was I not working, me and my fiancée, with our baby girl and another on the way, are living with the in-laws!
Granted my pregnant fiancée was able to finish her last year close to home AND me, but still…
I’m stuck at my in-laws’ house looking after my infant child. Needless to say, that situation contributed to my madness. Is it a cliché to dislike your in-laws?
I let the stress of my life situation, which I take 100% blame for, get the best of me (I should have foreseen my job being lost, and worn a condom to prevent further nonsense. SMH.)
I had a family that I couldn’t take care of financially. Not being able to find a job in my field was a very humbling situation. Being a Christian believer I dealt with the guilt of having children out of wedlock, which caused me a great deal of stress.
All of my relationships, old and new, were influx as well, which caused me even more stress.
My pregnant fiancée and I were nearly on the brink of pre-marital divorce. Also I lost beloved members from my family circle: my aunt who was a matriarch of my extended family, an uncle who served as a patriarch, and my very own dad. All of them died from heart attacks! All before retirement age, which still may be 65.There were other family members who passed as well from various illnesses that seem all to common for OUR community.
AND, my mom was having heart issues of her own during this time.
Queue the violins…
I figured my loved ones either had bad genetic luck or were called home by Jesus Christ. I also figured they probably didn’t take care of themselves the best way they should have, but it’s only so much you can do, right?
I still didn’t connect the dots with the FOOD I was eating, or the life I was taught to live in general.
I assumed I just needed to cut down on my *calories and get back to exercising and I would gradually lose the weight as I did in college.
I needed to keep applying for jobs in my field and hopefully my luck would change. Put on that good CORPORATE WHITE act to get in the door.
I needed to learn to manage my stress better as well. People gain and lose jobs all the time. Loved ones die as they get older. Shit happens. That’s life.
“All will be well in due time,” I thought. “I have the American spirit to achieve. God still favors me.”
First, I needed a change of scenery…
to get away from the NORMAL I had been used to all of my life up to this point…
to save a marriage that had not even started yet…
raise my children the way I saw fit…
to get the HELL out of my in-laws house…
…so I can rediscover myself.
So far I have gotten more than I bargained for…
(TO BE CONTINUED)