A Scrapbook of Skinny and Not-so-Skinny Photos…
No, Virginia, I wasn’t always a “big guy”
I became a big guy because as the years have passed, I did not use my body as much as I used to do when I was younger.
I used to be fit. Now I’m not. So as a result of not being fit, I am fat and I am not healthy.
Some people are blessed with awesome genes like my friend Ragen Chastain who is incredibly fit, an amazing dancer, a marathon runner, a blogger and a spokesperson for the H.A.E.S. movement (Health at Every Size)
She is out on the end of the spectrum where “fit and fat” live happily in the same body.
I, alas, do not share that quality. On me, as it is with many people, the extra pounds are a visible symptom of being out of shape and unhealthy.
“Back when I was a Whippersnapper…“
Very Therapeutic actually. It seems to be part of the ongoing process / transformation / whatever-the-heck you want to call whatever process which is going on in my slightly warped brain. It is akin to the “centering” process that practitioners of Tai-chi describe. I’ve found my center, my balance point, my foundation. And I’m building on it.
So, this little stroll down memory lane via photos of skinny-ness and fatness past did a world of good. 🙂 Because, as I gathered together the photos I’m using in this post, I came to some conclusions:
1. “Short & Simple” simply isn’t in my nature
This page was intended to be about a half-dozen photos of me, arranged chronologically showing how I’ve gone from “fit, healthy, and skinny” to NOT fit. NOT healthy, and most certainly NOT skinny. Much like what you see in the first photo collage at the very top of this page.
It morphed into a much longer post. LOL Imagine that! Woot!
I apologize to the folks looking for “quick and dirty” but that just ain’t me…!
Sorry, but there it is. I accept it. If you want to skip all the words, you have permission to only look at the photos! LOL The rest of us folks will get on gettin on.
2. Thin is relative
Back when I was a itty bitty cowboy, a knee-biter, rug runner and then up through my formative years, I was actually thin! In my memories of those years, however, I’m a blob.
That is/was my perception anyway. I do know that I was always trying to “lose weight.” Weird huh? Ah, youth is so wasted on the young. 😉 :^) Now that I actually AM a blob, well I realize just how skinny I was!
3. Attractiveness is relative
The other thing that I noticed, as I gathered together the photos for this post, is that I realize now, looking back at these photos, that I was pretty good lookin’!
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t “super model beautiful” or anything but I was not the hideous beast that lurked in the dark either. I was simply “good lookin’,” though at the time I was oblivious to this fact. People told me at various points and with various degrees of enthusiasm that I looked good but I didn’t believe them. Amazing what a bit of hindsight will do ain’t it? LOL
I believe that I’m not alone in having this sort of disconnect between perception and reality. Many lovely people think they are hideous! I think this is because beauty is in the eye of the beholder and our own ideas of what looks good rarely match up with what is in the mirror.
3. Fat Kids
Some people are “big babies” or “big as kids” — I wasn’t — if anything, I was on the skinny side of the spectrum when I was little. Only once I reached adulthood did I start having issues with my weight.
A couple of gratuitous “Cute Kid” Pics
These are here mainly because of the “cowboy” aspect. See I was into the cowboy thing from a VERY early age!
Another apology / explanation is in order.
Some of the the photos on this page are small with low resolutions, I know. Sorry about that, but they are photos which I scanned in “back in the day” when I had my very first website.
You remember, back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, when “net-neutrality” wasn’t a word yet because, well that WAS the Internet–a brave new world where the little guy had as big a voice as the corporations, actually a BIGGER voice, because corporations really didn’t “get” the whole idea of the Internet?
Back then everyone had only dial up, so when I scanned them, I deliberately made them small sized. Eventually some day, I’ll find the original prints and rescan them. Some day. In my spare time. Yeh, right.
Pic #1: One of those “everybody’s got one” photos. According to my Mom, this was at a carnival and “yes” I really had sandy blond hair when I was a baby. It has gradually darkened as I’ve gotten older. She says that I’m almost 2 in the picture.
Pic #2: I think every male child over a certain age has a photo of himself in this cowboy outfit. I was at a book store the other day, and I swear, on the back of the book jacket, there was a photo of the author as a kid wearing this very same outfit. I’m cuter though. <grin>
The foot belongs to my father. My mom says that I was trying to put my boots on my Dad’s foot. I must have loved boots as a kid because I’ve got lots of photos of me wearing cowboy boots.
The 1980’s – ranging from 170-ish to 190-ish lbs
Pic #6: 1986 – This photo was taken just before Halloween. Probably in 1986, maybe 1985(?) The photo is taken in the office of the apartment complex where I lived at the time. I won a $150 off my rent for having the best costume. Woot! This is one of the VERY few photos you will see of me without either a full beard or goatee. I was working as a waiter at the time and the dress code for the restaurant prohibited me having anything but a mustache. I think I look a little like Kevin Costner when he played that sailor in No Way Out.
Pic #8: 1989 – This is my “Professional Acting Resume Photo.” I used if for a number of years 89, 90, 91, and 92 because my appearance stayed pretty much the same. My weight when the photo was taken was somewhere around 175. The sweater, now long gone, is probably my favorite article of clothing I’ve every owned. I got it at a Salvation Army store for $2 and I always got a compliment on it whenever I wore it.
The 1990’s — The weight starts to climb…
Starting at a low of 165, the weight mostly went “up” but fluctuated between 165 lbs and a high of 234 lbs
Pic #9: 1990 – At the end of 1989 and through 1991, I was a cycling nut. This photo was taken when I was at my peak fitness level: when I routinely, during the summer cycling season, would ride 40-60 miles on a Saturday and occasionally ride a 100 miles, a “century ride” in an organized cycling rally two or three times a year. I weighed 165 lbs.
Pic #10: 1991 – The gradual increase in weight begins. I quit my “night time bartending job” or a full time job in a library which means I had less time to do all that cycling. Take note of this beautiful costume. It is the same one that I’m wearing in the photo from 1986. — It still fits!
Pic #12: 1994 – Tuxedos make anyone look good. And they also hide extra pounds very well. I’ve gone back to graduate school. The bell tolls for me. It is the beginning of continuous cycle of loss, then gain, then loss, then gain more back. — At my little brother’s wedding (the dude in white in the middle) The guy on the other end of the three-some is my “baby” brother, the youngest of us.
Pic #13: 1995 – For most of these photos, the “weight” if I give you one is an estimate. On this photo however, I know for certain. I was right around 190 lbs, give or take 5 lbs. I had gained some weight and had worked hard to get fit again and slim down. That’s why I’m grinning so much in the photo — because I KNOW I look good! LOL
Pic #14: 1996 -At another wedding. And lookin’ pretty good in a tux. Check out the puffy cheeks as a sign of where things are headed. sigh Just a heads up. If you’re planning a straight wedding, invite some gay guys. The husbands can relax and drink and the gay guys can have fun dancing with all the abandoned women. Well that’s what happened to me.. LOL I was VERY much in demand as a dancer.
Pic #15: 1996 -Looking at this photo and the next one, both taken in New York, I look pretty good. But…the proverbial handwriting is on the wall:
I have just graduated with my Masters Degree only weeks before. I’m in New York to attend the American Library Association Conference and do some job hunting. Or at least that was the plan when I bough the ticket and paid for the conference.
By the time the trip to New York arrived, I had already found work. My first professional position. A job in a library. A computer job in a library. A sit behind a computer most of the time job in a library. That’s when the weight REALLY started to pile on. Oh.. in the photo, I’m hung over and I’m on the Staten Island Ferry. I’m surprised that I’m not more green.
Pic #16: 1996 – Also in New York. On top of the World Trade Center. Like many Americans, having actually been on top of that building and then seeing it come down on 9-11, it made it both surreal and real, and unbelievable at the same time.
Pic #18: 1996 – My boyfriend at the time, soon to be my second long term partner, is wearing the green and gold costume. Because it no longer fits me. I’ve gained too much weight to be able to wear it any longer. I actually look pretty good in the photo, but that pirate’s shirt with it’s big looseness is hiding a multitude of sins!
Pic #20 a: 1999 -Yes, I know that this photo and the next one are way too yellow. I think it was the light reflecting off the sheets I was using as a backdrop. I have this fancy editing program that can fix that and make my skin tone look normal but I have no idea how to do it and the learning curve to teach myself how is greater than what I’m willing to expend in time right now. Someday… I put it on my “to do” list. — if any of the readers of my blog DOES know how to fix the color, and you’re willing to do it for me, let me know and I’ll email you the pics.
October. According to a spreadsheet I kept at the time, in this photo I weighed 234 lbs. with a 38% body fat! eeeeeeeeeekkkkkk!!!!! I had gained weight, and by this point was mad at myself so I decide I’m going to go on a diet and lose the weight. Yeah, right. Compare this photo to the one from 1995 further up the page! eeeeeeeekkkk!!!!
Here in this photo, I’m wearing my “cowboy drag” LOL. I love that shirt. When I get back down to a point where I can wear it again, (yes, I still have it) I’m going to wear it! And I don’t give a damn if the shirt is out of style. I’m going to wear it AND I’m going to wear the “old school” western dance costumes that I have tucked away. I’m going to bring them back in style all by myself
Pic #20 b: 1999 – October. Wearing cycling gear. This is from the same photo session where I was documenting what was supposed to be the “before” photos. Uh-huh. Like that worked out as planned! SIGH! — For the record, that was the “highest” of the decade. According to that old spreadsheet, by Dec 25th, 1999 I weighed 226 lbs with a 36.5% body fat.
The 2000’s — “Skinny Me” a.k.a. “Fit Me” is a distant memory
Being a “Big Guy” is now “normal” — Weight fluctuates up and down between a low of 200 lbs and a high of 275 lbs
The amazing thing in looking back at these photos is that I can finally see and accept what people have told me for years. I don’t look as heavy as I actually am — I carry my weight very well. People, when they have heard how much I weigh, have always said, genuinely I believe, “OMG, you don’t LOOK that fat.” Well they generally don’t say “fat” they say things like “that heavy” or “that much” or “that big” — but you get the idea.
Now, seeing these photos lined up the way they are in chronological order I can see what they mean. I dress to hide the weight. I have good posture. It is only if you get a photo of me slumped over or sitting in a soft sofa where I can’t sit “up” that the weight really shows.
Pic #21: 2000 – Taken at work, on July 26, the day after my birthday. The city where I worked put all the “birthdays” for that month into a drawing and Woo-hoo! I won! This photo was the one they took for the city newsletter. Weight 220.5, Body Fat 33%
Pic #22: 2001 – This photo was taken at my very first IAGLCWDC Annual Convention. In late 2000, I “discovered” what I had once known, way back in the Disco Era (which for me was during my high school years) — that Dancing is Fun! I joined a gay dance team and this event was our first competition. In this shot I’m leaning toward my boyfriend at the time. We were having lunch at a restaurant on the beach. I remember thinking that I was fat at the time. Looking back now, OMG! I wish I were that skinny!
Pic #23: 2001 – Same month as pic #22 – I do not know how much I weigh in this photo but you can see that the shirt is blowsy… that’s done on purpose to hide some love handles. My best guess, based on recorded weights I have from dates before and after, I weigh between 200 and 210 in these two photos.
Pic #24: 2002 – In this photo I was at the lower end of the weight range for the decade. After lots of dancing and lots of dieting, I had gotten down to a weight where I felt I looked pretty good. So good that I had a friend of mine take some photos of me. This is one of the ones with the shirt on. wink wink LOL Nothing naughty, but I have a few wearing jeans, cowboy hat, and a leather vest with no shirt, which I will not share here. It’s not that kind of blog…! LOL
Pic #26: 2004 – At Turner Falls in Oklahoma. This is a good photo because it shows my legs and you can see the tummy and the beginnings of my man-boobs. SIGH Thank goodness for my dancing otherwise my weight gains would have been far more dramatic far earlier! As I learned in 2012 & 2013 and & 2014 — when I don’t dance, I gain weight fast and lose fitness even faster!
Pic #27: 2004 – In this photo I’m in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco in front of the Harvey Milk memorial with the huge gay pride flag. My dance partner and I had gone out to compete at the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association’s annual dance competition (we won). This is a perfect example of how even though I’m up into the 220’s I don’t look like it. I look fitter than that.
Pic #28: 2004 – I had begun competing in the straight world in the ACDA and UCWDC circuits. Here I am at the Dallas Dance Festival in November of 2004. I have no idea how much I weigh. Sorry! I can’t find any spreadsheets from that time frame.
Pic #30: 2005 – In Banff near Calgary. I LOVE CANADA. One of my fondest daydreams is to meet a nice Canadian fella and fall in love an have him ask me to marry him and I move to Canada. blissful sigh but I digress. This photo was taken in the mountains above Banff. My dance partner and I had traveled to Calgary to compete in the IGRA Dance Finals. This photo is pretty good (click on it to see the full size) at showing that I do have the extra pounds and I do indeed carry the weight well.
Pic #31: 2006 – In Montreal Canada. I LOVE CANADA!!! One of my… oh, you know that already. LOL This was me competing in Line Dance in the First World OutGames in Montreal. I won the Silver Medal. Alas, this really cute french dude beat the tar out of me. Oh my! NOT that kind of beating. He beat me on the dance floor! LOL Anyway, if you look at this shirt you’ll clearly see the bulges and crinkles in the shirt as I strain against the fabric.
Pic #32: 2007 – In Fort Worth, Texas in March, at the ACDA Texas Hoedown event. Check out the shirt!!!!! I’ve LOST weight. The beautiful and talented lady in the photo with me is Terri Bordeaux, my first “Pro” who I danced with in a category called Pro-Am. This was my FIRST straight event dancing with a female. Eeeeeeeekkkkk! I quickly got over the trauma. LOL You’ll notice that there are NO photos of me and my male dance partner. That is because we still live in a world where if his bosses found out he is gay, he’d be fired. And since he is only 1 year away from retirement, well that would NOT be a good thing. So you’ll hear me talk about him but you’ll never get a photo or a video, or any inkling as to his identity. Shame. It is really a shame.
Pic #33: 2007 – In Houston, Teas, in May at the UCWDC Texas Classic event, dancing with my lovely and talented dance partner Donna. This was our first UCWDC competition. And we were under some SEVERE stress because the judges were not only judging us for the competition, they were also watching to determine if we were going to be able to dance Newcomer (the entry level division at that time) or be “graduated” into the next higher division. Eeeeeeekkkk! This photo is a good one because it clearly shows the belly that was at this point, a permanent fixture of my body! I have no idea how much I weigh — sorry – bad record keeping strikes again!
Pic #35: 2008 – Nashville, TN. World Championship of Country Western Dance — dancing the cha-cha in the “couples” division with my dance partner. We won! Yay! World Champions! I am somewhere around 240-250 in this photo, maybe as low as 235.
Pic #36: 2008 – Nashville, TN. World Championship of Country Western Dance — dancing the two-step in the “Pro-Am” division with my coach. I am somewhere around 240-250 in this photo, maybe as low as 235.
Pic #37: 2008 – At the Big Apple dance event in New York (actually it was a hotel in New Jersey but… we won’t split hairs) My heaviest weight of the decade… and until the shit hit the fan in 2012-2013, my heaviest weight of ALL TIME!!!! I weighed 275 lbs in this photo. It is the one weight which I actually recorded. Because when I saw this photo (a friend took it and gave me a paper copy), I dug the scale out and weighed myself. I had no idea I had gained that much. All of the other photos from that trip to New York have been burned!
Pic #38: 2009 – July 4th weekend in Washington DC. Those photos from the Big Apple scarred me so much that I got busy and lost some weight, down to around 250 but inevitably, it began to creep back on. I don’t know how much I weigh here in this photo but it is probably around 260. Taken in the Rotunda in Washington DC. For the record, my best friend who took the photo is a really good photographer. Even if he does use a fully manual camera that uses actual FILM! eeek!
Pic #39: 2009 – July 4th weekend in Washington DC. — here you see me looking at an imaginary watch because my friend has already spent 10 minutes (at least) twiddling and fidgeting with that previously mentioned manual camera. I’m a funneee guy! This photo is a good one because you can clearly see the man-boobs and the tummy.
Pic #40 & #41 : 2009 – At the ACDA event, Waltz Across Texas. Event “posed photos” with my two lovely lady partners: Terri Bordeaux, my coach, and Donna, my couples partner. It is amazing what a good costume and good posture can do to hide the fat. I’m around 250 lbs in these photos.
Plus… black is slimming.
The 2010’s — The Decade, so far, of Drama, Doom, Near Death Experiences and Rebirth/Reboot(?)
Jan 2010 – May 2013
Weight averages around 250 lbs but swings back and forth from a low in the 230’s to a high around 280
By now you get the picture.
Me. Losing and gaining, up and down, down and up, gaining and losing. But the trend is ever upward.
I won’t go through the pictures one by one like I did earlier. They pretty much tell their own story. — In costume on the dance floor, I carry the weight well, but when you see me in civilian clothes, the picture ain’t pretty.
What strikes me is just how “tired” I look in some of these photos. There’s a good reason for that… my fitness level and my health were in decline.
And my life during this period, was to use a word “dramatic.” Here in no particular order are the things that come to mind which occurred during this period:
- I broke my wrist and had to have surgery to repair it and had to dance with a brace for months.
- My truck was broken into not once, not twice, but THREE times.
- Work, my profession, my career, transformed from a place where I loved to be, into this non-stop stress-filled daily grind.
- I lost my job.
- Losing my job meant losing my health insurance (at least until the Affordable Care Act was put into place this year, 2014. Yay!)
- I was in a car accident in 2012 that totaled my truck.
- I was diagnosed with depression which apparently I had been suffering for years and just “getting along at getting along” with no meds and no professional help.
- I reached a point financially where I had no choice but to take an “early” retirement from my
- As money starts to drain out of my 459 retirement account and then my 401k account, I gradually phase out weekly dance lessons, moving to a less frequent schedule, phase out line dancing to a bare minimum, eventually drop Pro-Am until only Couples dancing is left, which because the competition entry fees are split between two people is the cheapest of the competition options.
So.. there was stress. LOTS of stress. And when I’m stressed. I eat. (or at least I did — that’s on the “watch out for” list as I work through my transformation)
So… my weight skyrocketed! The weight and the depression and the financial problems all combined into this big ugly perfect storm of fat-ness and declining fitness… let’s just say, It was NOT a good 3 1/2 years.
BUT, it wasn’t all bad… there was dance; dance was the one thing that kept me going. I even won THREE World Championship titles in 2010, 2011, and 2013! Woot! And, in 2013 at the World Championships during the Olympiad, I won a spot on the US DanceSport Team in the Line Dance division. And, with some of my retirement lump sum disbursement I was able to take a couple vacation trips and cross off a few things off my bucket list.
June 2013 – July 2014 — I stopped dancing. I stopped just about everything.
Weight surges up to then passes my previous record maximum weight, then keeps on setting new records: from somewhere around 275-280 to a max of 335 lbs
In June of 2013 my “surplus” money ran out. Meaning that I had burned through my 401k and my 429 and was still out of work. I stopped dancing.
When I stopped dancing, I basically stopped everything else too. I didn’t go out. I didn’t leave the apartment except to get groceries every other week. I watched a lot of TV shows and movies. I actually went over my DSL broadband download limit four or five times — I didn’t even know there was a limit until I got this nasty email from AT&T saying I was using too much bandwidth.
Basically my fat cells had a huge party. And my muscles went on vacation. I don’t have a lot of photos for this time period because well, uhmmm, I wasn’t doing anything. And seriously, if you looked like how I looked and felt how I felt you wouldn’t be doing a lot of selfies either.
In May 2014, I woke up with this blazing thought in my brain. This is the piece of paper I wrote it on and I actually took a photo with my webcam of it. If you want to read the story behind the photo check out my blog post : Once more dear readers, back into the bloody friggin breech. . .
I’ll probably blog again and again about that moment but for now, that post will give you the basics.
Then finally on July 26th, at my heaviest weight I took a picture, the day after my birthday. I knew that something had to be done. I just didn’t have a game plan. Then a miracle happened. Oh? You want details… well, I’m working on that post. It is actually a series of posts because it has grown so long. But, it will be coming soon and I’ll come back here and add a link.
Whew! Finally the end of the road…
Actually, just the end of this post…
And, for me, the very beginning of an even longer road…
So there you have it, a complete (well a rough outline) of my roller coaster ride of weight loss and weight gain.
Now a new journey has begun and by all that is holy, I will never, NEVER get on that damned ride again. The weight is going to come off and stay off because I’m going to get fit and stay fit. “I” am my new full-time job.
See ya on the dance floor!
Posted on Wed, Sep 17, 2014, in Gallery and tagged acting, after, before, before and after photos, costumes, cowboy, cowboy drag, cowboy gear, Cycling, cycling gear, cycling kit, Dance, dancer, dancing, during, fat, fat me, gallery, getting fit, getting healthy, Halloween, halloween costumes, New Year, new york, North Texas State University, NTSU, ny, photo album, photo gallery, Progress Photos, resume photo, skinny, skinny me, staten island ferry, Terri Bordeaux, thin me, University of North Texas, UNT, weddings, world trade center. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.