Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The F...15: A Weight Gain/Loss Story

by Charles Dion Springfield

It happens to the best of us. One day you realize that your favorite slim-cut, button-down shirt just won’t bottom down the way it used to. There is an extra “lump” in the front that puts some additional stress on the bottoms and button holes. Or, and this is my favorite of the not-so-favorite things, when it takes extra energy, time and several deep breaths in order to get into your beloved (insert your favorite designer/store of choice here) jeans because of a noticeably larger “lump” in the back.

That’s right! I’m referring to weight gain – that nearly unavoidable enemy that slowly starts to eat away at our vanity while also slowly eating away at our health. No pun intended.

It actually happens to such a large number of us when we enter our first year in college that it’s been coined “The Freshman 15.” Being a thin 18 year-old, not an ideal condition when you’re trying to be – in looks and actions – a grown man, I used to look in the mirror and wish I could gain an extra 15 pounds. Be careful what you wish for. It sneaks up on your ass several years later, or shall I say on my ass and my midsection.

As fate would have it, I did manage to fill out in my mid 20s. So this new weight is on top of what should be my normal weight. And since I’m far from my freshman days, I fondly – yet begrudgingly – refer to it is “The Fucking 15” or the “The F…15” for the people who flinch at F-Bombs and for elders I respect.

So what does one do about The F…15+? That’s right 15+. I think I have just gained a pound or two sipping on a huge mocha ice coffee with whipped cream and chocolate syrup while writing this story.

This dilemma is not everyone’s, though. If having extra weight on your frame works for you, I say: “Rock it, Sock it, Push it!” There are lots of people who look amazing with fuller frames, especially when it’s accessorized appropriately with confidence. I, for one, like Oprah with a little meat on her bones. There’s no need for her to go back to being a size 8. Besides, she’s Oprah. She has nothing to prove anymore.

I’m just not one of those persons who can pull it off, so it has to come off. I’m just not comfortable with it. It’s really just extra baggage for me and I like to travel light.

He’s Not Heavy…He’s My Reflection

Weight gain has only affected my vanity up to this point and I make fun of myself for that. But for millions of men, women and an alarming number of children, it is severely affecting their health and that’s no laughing matter.
According to The American Obesity Association (AOA), obesity is a complex, multi-factorial chronic disease involving environmental (social and cultural), genetic, physiologic, metabolic, behavioral and psychological components. It is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. The organization states that 127 million people in the U.S. are overweight, 60 million are obese and 9 million are severely obese.

If you think that’s alarming, the health risks are all together frightening. Obesity increases the risk of illness from about 30 serious medical conditions and is associated with increases in deaths from all-causes. According to AOA, early onset of obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 Diabetes, are being reported in children and adolescents with obesity.

Put the Pedal to the Metal, Some Pep in Your Step or Some Bass in Your Walk

Luckily, I’ve been in this situation before. Therefore, I had to think back to a few years ago when I put myself on a consistent fitness and nutrition regime. I tried a variety of things from The Abs Diet and “The Special K Challenge” to protein-packed smoothies and gym memberships.

Through trial and error, I learned some key lessons:
- Exercising at least three times a week helps; five times a week REALLY helps
- Cardio (30-45 minutes worth) does wonders for burning the calories quickly
- Strength training helps keep the extra weight off and tones the body
- Healthy snacks like almonds, carrots, protein bars and protein shakes help keep down cravings between meals
- Dinner salads with some type of protein like ham, turkey, fish or seafood is a delicious, low-cal and satisfying meal
- Water MUST be consumed REGULARLY
- Fruit and protein shakes were my saving grace to ward off post-dinner cravings
- Looking at images of the type of body I wanted on a daily basis reminded me of my ultimate goal
- Starving yourself or depriving yourself of things is SELF-SABOTAGE
- Decadent things like chocolate or martinis are just as enjoyable in moderation

Eventually I shed the desired weight. And I not only looked great, I felt great. While those various tactics really worked for me (I whole-heartedly swear by protein smoothies and “Hip Hop Abs” DVDs), the real reason it worked was because I was ready for it to work.

It’s all about setting goals and sticking to them. Once you’re active on a regular basis, you will become healthier and ultimately shed the pounds you can live without.

So no more mocha drinks at the coffee shop while writing my blog entries. Those will be replaced with green teas or the occasional reduced-fat mocha minus the whipped cream. And I will revisit the steps that led to my previous weight loss in addition to dusting off my “Hip Hop Abs” DVDs. Go ahead and laugh, but Shaun T made it enjoyable and fun. Plus it worked.

Next time you see me, I’m hoping there will be a lot less of me to see – Fucking 15 pounds less.


  1. ...ah the battle of the bulge! Dudes suffer too! Good article!

  2. Great article Charles, thanks for the reminder that I need to say F, the F...15. I don't want it on me anymore.