Editor's note: This post by Tony Posnanski originally appeared on his blog, The Anti-Jared. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Before I entered high school I lost 50 pounds. For most of my childhood I was hovering over the 200 pound mark.
But I decided to change for high school. I was tired of all the names. Fat, chunk, porky ...
I wanted to finally be "skinny." I wanted to have some confidence to ask out a girl. I wanted to be "popular." You realize later in life, if you want to be "popular" then you will never be truly "popular."
So I got ready for my first day. I was around 155 pounds. I put on my size 30 pants and the Tommy Hilfiger shirt I begged my mom to get me. She knew how hard I worked to fit in with the other kids. She made a lot of deals with me if I lost weight. Getting new clothes was one of them.
So I put on my clothes and went to the mirror. Then I realized something ...
I was still fat and ugly.
It did not make sense. I lost 50 pounds. I worked so hard to limit my calories every day. I did some walking around the neighborhood. I should be buff, right?
Instead I hated what I saw. I had a spare tire around my waist. My head was much bigger than my body. I looked awkward. I looked fat.
I thought it was just my shirt being tucked in. So I pulled it out. The myth of most overweight people is that they think you look thinner with your shirt untucked. But the spare tire was much more evident. I pulled the shirt out more and more but could not get it to look right. So I took my shirt off to get a new one.
Then I looked at my chest. It was horrific to me. I thought about what a girl would say if she ever saw me half naked. Would she laugh? I would if I was a girl. With my loose skin and no muscle, there was no way a girl would even see me half naked.
I worked so hard just to be fat and ugly. I put the shirt back on and looked at myself.
I could not even love myself.
But I thought the answer was to lose more weight. Maybe if I did, I could look like Mario Lopez or Joey Lawrence. Guys that girls swoon over. I mean, I had a good personality. Everyone told me that. They told me so many times I actually believed it. Later in life I questioned what a "good personality" truly is.
So I decided to lose more weight. I ate less and worked out more. Every day at school I would tug on my shirt, and people would tell me how amazing my weight loss was. I told them I had a long way to go. I never enjoyed the compliments. When a girl would talk to me, I would walk away. Why would anyone want to be with a fat and ugly guy like me?
After eating a lot less, I got to be 142 pounds. I could see and feel my ribs. You could see my neck move when I breathed.
And I still hated myself. I hated the way I looked. I hated my body and I was the first one to make fun of it. My nose, my gut, my legs ... you name it.
After high school I slowly gained weight. I did not care. I would get to 240 pounds and then lose the weight. Then 300 pounds and then lose the weight.
When I was over 400 pounds, I would look in the mirror. I had no loose skin. I was obese. Nothing looked good on me. All I cared about was clothes fitting me.
When I was over 400 pounds, I looked at one of my old high school yearbooks. I looked at my pictures and realized I was beyond "skinny." I looked good, but I never saw that in me. I cried because when you weigh so much, you truly believe you will never get that chance in life again.
I later lost more than 200 pounds, but, more than that, I learned to love what I saw in the mirror. I had to. I could not do that to myself again. After hating myself and comparing myself for more than 30 years, I realized that I will have imperfections. I have two choices: embrace them or be miserable.
So now when I look in the mirror, I see a smile. I see a guy who is determined to be healthy. I have loose skin and muscle — all mixed in one.
But I also see my son in the background looking at his dad. Asking his dad if he went to the gym. Telling his dad he wants to be just like him.
I love him very much, and I do not want him to have the body image issues I did.