Two of my closest friends had just gotten married, and I was sitting at the bar nursing a beer while surrounded by dozens of people I hadnâ€™t seen in years.
I grew up in a tiny little town where everyone knew everyone, and it seemed like everyone was related somehow. It was actually pretty creepy.
Ah, the wonders of small-town central Kansas.
An old familiar face walked up to the bar right next to where I was seated and ordered a drink. It was my friend Nic whom I hadnâ€™t seen in about six years. I greeted him enthusiastically, only to have him give me a puzzled look and an awkward â€œheeeyyyâ€ in response.
As Nic walked away, my mind was racing to figure out what I had done to deserve the cold shoulder. We were never best friends, but we always got along really well, and I was truly happy to see the guy.
Had I insulted Nic in some way? Perhaps made a crass comment about his mother while in a drunken stupor? No, that couldnâ€™t be it. Iâ€™ve never been a big drinker, and I would certainly remember if I had done something like that. Unable to come up with any kind of an explanation, I decided to just let it go.
A few hours later, Nic came up to me and apologized profusely for being a little rude in our earlier interaction. He told me that he simply didnâ€™t recognize me. Apparently, a person looks pretty different after losing nearly 100 pounds.
Thatâ€™s right â€” I used to be a fatty. Itâ€™s hard for me to even remember what it was like to carry almost 250 pounds on my 5â€™ 9â€ frame. Iâ€™ve been overweight for the majority of my life, though.
I was always chubby growing up, but I really ballooned while in my early teens. I remained suspended in my obese state until I reached my early twenties.
Iâ€™d simply finally had enough of feeling disgusted with myself, of jiggling in all the wrong places (are there right places?) and of being in awful shape. I decided to stop being a victim and took control of my life and my health.
I bought a bike and starting riding everywhere. I hounded my friends to go out and play basketball with me at every free moment. I started playing tennis. I searched for any excuse to get my fat ass outside and moving around.
I also started paying more attention to what I was shoving into my face. Looking back at it now, the food I used to think was healthy I now see as an odd combination of sad, shocking and horrifying. Itâ€™s quite fitting that the acronym for â€œStandard American Dietâ€ is spelled S-A-D.
I eventually started running, and before too long, I had morphed into the strapping young lad I am today. Right? Ladies? Ahem…
Joking aside, itâ€™s easy to forget what I felt like back then. At the time, I was deep in denial of my own obesity. I was irritated by how large-sized shirts werenâ€™t large enough, blaming the t-shirt manufacturers for unleashing their unrealistic body standards on my delicate psyche.
I also remember thinking to myself, â€œSure, I need to lose 25 pounds or so.â€ The first 25 pounds I lost were the most stubborn and difficult to get rid of, but once they were gone, it was psychologically easier to lose more weight.
Soon, I had lost another 25 pounds. Now 50 pounds in to my nosedive towards a healthy body mass index, it became apparent that I still had quite a ways to go.
A funny thing started to happen: people were being really nice all of the sudden. Girls were making eye contact. Strangers were friendlier and more helpful than ever. Itâ€™s amazing how differently the world treats you once you burn through a few layers of fat.
As time wore on, I kept up with my daily exercise regimen. As a result, my weight has been stable and right where it needs to be for the past four and a half years.
Iâ€™m glad that Iâ€™m able to take a moment to reflect on how unhealthy I used to be. I was surely headed towards a life of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and a slew of other unpleasant complications stemming from obesity.
Since losing those 95 pounds, I moved to this beautiful state with endless opportunities to get outside and be active. I sure hope youâ€™re out there taking advantage of it, too.
Joe Vajgrt is a senior journalism major who has always been beautiful on the inside. His column usually appears Mondays in the Collegian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.