Today the first issue of Man V. Fat came out and for me, it is incredibly liberating, albeit in a very odd way. I completely agree with John Warburton in his piece in the first issue of Man V. Fat Magazine: “The problem with most mirrors is that you only really see your face. In the bathroom, in the pub too, above the mantelpiece…all I ever see staring back at me is my own lovely head.” This is incredibly true, and the publication of Man V. Fat today fixed that up for me but good.

With the magazine coming out today, I put out the first and only picture of myself without a shirt on since I first started getting fat in elementary school. I distinctly remember the day I decided never to take my shirt off again: I was fishing with my father and the sweatshirt I was wearing came up and he pointed out some stretch marks on my side. For a child to have stretch marks is pretty rough, and since that moment I have not really ever gone shirtless in public, or even private. A girlfriend I had once made of me for wearing a grey t-shirt when we went hot-tubbing…in the dark. Swimming in daylight I could pretend it was to prevent sunburn, but in the dark? Not a chance…

Sending that picture in the magazine to Shan was the hardest thing I have done in a VERY long time. I knew I had to do it though, because it is a final admission that, yes, I have to do something about this. When you are fat, you develop the amazing ability to pretend you aren’t. The human mind is capable of so much self-delusion, that it lets you pretend that your pants shrank in the wash, or that you can’t see over your stomach because of the position you are sitting in. I know there are a lot of you reading this and nodding in agreement, glancing down at your gut, and sighing. Sending that picture put myself out there for the whole world, and seeing myself as a deathly pale goddamn vertical manatee drives the reality home. It’s time to do this people…

A friend of mine recently cautioned me against putting the picture out there, because there could be those who would use it to mock me socially, but honestly, if someone is going to make fun of someone for not only trying to make a positive change in their life, but for putting it out there to help others, their words mean nothing. I encourage each and every one of you reading this to take a picture and put it out there…REALLY put it out there. Make a commitment to change and use your own picture to remind you of what you are working for. I am not going to spout any thinspirational bullshit of “nothing tastes as good as thin feels,” because I don’t know that for sure…I have never been thin. What I am going to say though is that when I look at that picture of me, I am MUCH less inclined to go out for beers.

One thing I think is funny, and I would be very interested to hear the opinions of other fat guys, is that I feel like on a certain level we fall in love with our fat. I feel that we get to a point where we are so comfortable being what we are…breathing heavily and rearranging folds of flesh in bed at night, that it becomes frightening to consider changing. I think we all suffer from Stockham Syndrome (so sorry…I must be channeling my father and his “dad puns”) and are reluctant to relinquish the fatty shield we use to protect ourselves. You can hide so many flaws behind 50 kilos of blubber, and it always gives you an out. We define ourselves by our fat, while at the same time we loathe it.

We each reap what we sew, and for years I have sewn this body with pizza, Cheetos, Doritos, fried garbage, and other such fat-friendly materials. I am a living testament to the enduring power of carbohydrates and am close to generating my own gravitational field. When I look at the pictures of my fellow fat-fighting peers and realize that not only am I the biggest one (by five stone, which I understand to be a bunch of hogsheads and some jiggers), but that I am the biggest guy in a magazine of big guys who want to not be big anymore. But…I am making changes, one day at a time. I am not perfect, I slip up (last night was a pretty epic “slip up”), but then you get back up and keep marching. Fall in line with me, and together we will reach our goals.

To each of you who has shared your stories on Man V Fat: you are all incredibly inspiring. Those of you who have achieved success in this area, as well as those who have just begun…you are all made up of the same material. You CAN do this. I am not going to give up, and neither are you.

It is so easy to give up. All you have to do is stop trying…stop fighting…stop doing what you know you need to do. You have done it before…you could do it again. The crucial thing is this: you have stopped before, but you won’t stop this time. I know you…you can do it.

P.S. The picture has nothing to do with anything…it was lunch the other day and is a perfect example of how food that is good for you can also be AMAZINGLY good.