Sweat Is Just Your Fat Crying
Getting fat again was never part of the plan. Not that the last two years were remotely part of any fucking plan, but alas, I cannot believe how different I look between now and then. I had half a mind to do a series of instagram posts doing side by side comparisons of me in March of 2020 (where, woof, I thought I had let myself go… little did I know), "celebrating" my new body. Ya know, with irony and stuff. But it felt like it was a satirical way of fat-shaming myself (and it damn sure was) in an age where more emphasis is put on loving yourself no matter what. That's not the message I wish to send.
Yeah, cool, I know I'm awesome. But there is something really devastating about losing a substantial amount of weight and prancing around for five years like I'm the cock of the walk, only to gain it all back and then some. My weight has fluctuated my whole life, dating back to a trip I took to Florida to visit my grandmother when I was eight years old. My mother describes me going to Disney World a scrawny little chap, and coming back a fat kid. I stayed on this "fat" for five years, then played football in eight grade and lost weight, then gained it back freshman year of high school.
I stayed a very punchable chunky through high school and into my senior year, where I discovered Molly (we called it ecstasy back in the day) and had a skinny renaissance. I lost my virginity. College came, as did 12 beers a night, and I gained it back.
After college, I got into a terrific regimen of eating nothing but a cup of cheese-its during the day while smoking a half a pack of Parliament lights, then washing it down with three coffees from 7-11. I realized, check this, if you DON'T EAT, you CAN'T GAIN WEIGHT. Whaaaaaaaaaaat?!?!?!
Then I quit smoking and started eating again. The 200's welcomed me back with open arms after I threw away all of my fat clothes. Kohl's is a blessed store for when you have to completely restructure a wardrobe. I then became a doorman, and while having to spent eight straight hours on my feet while schlepping luggage sounds like something that would keep my honest, I learned that conditioning the same muscles day in and day out, while getting out of work at midnight and closing the bars 3-4 nights a week wasn't going to justify a hashtag fit fam.
In 2015, after an extremely dark depressive episode, I had finally had enough. I decided to do it the right way. In one year, I went from 225 to 175 by way of eating better, kick boxing, and long-distance running. I was clocking under-8 minute miles. For the first time in my life, I felt like an athlete.
From 2016-2020, the following things ensued:
I quit my doorman job to pursue a career in the arts.
I got an agent.
I produced and acted in two series.
I booked several network and premium cable shows.
I got the girl of my dreams.
I started teaching acting classes.
It was an epic run. I did all the things I wanted to do be doing. Sure, there's some seriously unchecked mania and a suicidal episode sprinkled into that time frame, but I'll be damned, I had more confidence than I ever could have imagined.
I put soooooo much stock in my weight being the primary factor in all of those things happening for me. Like if it were a Power Rankings for a sport, it would look something like this:
My Penis Looks Larger in the Mirror When I'm Thinner.
(I got so caught up writing and rewriting that infantile penis joke that I completely lost sight as to why I'm writing this fucking post in the first place.)
Pandemic hits, I start taking anti-depressants, and here I am at 235, the heaviest I've ever been in my life. I detest the way I look. My auditions have gone from leading man to dumb fat relative and "beefy" NYPD detective (FBI, Tuesdays Nights, check your local listings). I've tried a lot of things, including Crossfit, MMA workouts, hiking, at-home kettlebell workouts, and draining $10 a month from my bank account via those sneaky little purple and yellow devils over at Planet Fitness.
Nothing has stuck. Why? I don't fucking know. I spend 95% of my time in my apartment. Napping always sounds better than being physically active. I feel so sluggish all the time, which gives way to self-loathing, which gives way to fatigue, which gives way to napping, which gives way to weight gain, which gives way to lack of confidence, which gives way to more fatigue, which gives way to lack of motivation, which gives way to more inactivity, which gives way to more weight gain (they get it, Chris).
Before I get a flurry of encouraging and motivational and unsolicited fitness-advice texts, I need you, dear reader, to understand that this is a small slice of my life. I still book work, I still get up and teach every day, and I still love where I am in my life.
But. These. Thoughts. Are. Real. And normal. Circling back to this era of body positivity, I 100% fully support someone loving theirselves regardless of body type. Of course. Of fucking course. Despite all of the self-deprecation I drool onto this here page, I fucking love Chris Russell. He's a peachy gem of a human.
But can we not lose sight of it still being hard work to LEARN to love the CHANGES in your body? While sexiness and self-love comes in all shapes and forms, can we not skip the steps where there's a lot to process when you balloon up 50 pounds in what feels like the blink of an eye? I can love myself all I want, but what I cannot stop is walking into a room, seeing a face who hasn't seen me in a while, and hearing their voice in my head say "oh wow, Russell really let himself go."
Well, :::insert famous heavyset actor::: can eat whatever they want. ( Something someone actually said to me.)
Yeah, cool, I'll make a note of that next time I get an audition for "Chubby Guy", who says the offensive thing at the party while shoving a hot dog down his throat (actual audition that I turned down.)
Do you know how much restraint it took to not walk into my first acting class back from the pandemic and not hold court and say, "HELLO EVERYONE, YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THAT I HAVE TWICE AS MUCH FACE AND TORSO AS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW ME I'M TAKING LEXAPRO AND IT HAS COMPLETELY WREAKED HAVOC ON MY METABOLISM AND I UNFORTUNATELY LEARNED THAT I WAS A GREAT COOK IN THE PROCESS AND I COULDN'T LEAVE MY HOUSE FOR LIKE A YEAR I ASK FOR PRIVACY AND COMPASSION DURING THIS TIME I SWEAR I'M NOT A BAD PERSON."
This morning I paid for a service that customizes workouts and meal plans and yada yada yada. I was supposed to go to the gym at 1:30pm where I imagined there to be less people. (It just dawned on me that the whole reason I started writing this was to talk about gym anxiety… fuck me.) It is 6:30pm and I have done everything but (including write about it, which was a healthy move. Fully acknowledged.)
Maybe I'll go at 11pm and take advantage of my night owl ways.
Root (pray) for me.
UPDATE: I went at 11pm and did a modified version of my workout. There were still groups of high-testosterone dudes laughing about stuff near the benches but I sniffed around the gym like a pet in a new living space and got marginally comfortable about going back (holy run-on sentence, Batman.)
Stay tuned for more updates on overcoming gym anxiety, or imposter syndrome in a gym.
If you are struggling with your mental health, there is no shame in getting help:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.