Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Finding Derby Dreams Amongst "The Biggest Loser"

I hate The Biggest Loser. It’s one of those shows that is so remarkably manipulative, with its keen product placement, over-emotive contestants, and very over the top trainer personalities, not to mention the fact of making money hand over fist by simply showing an hour of television each week that simply features people getting on a scale, and it’s almost like the proverbial car wreck that you can’t turn away from.

And last night, as my amazing wife pulled it up for us to watch on our DVR, I’ll be damned if it didn’t stick with me and cause me to think.
I hate when that happens.

For those unaware, this season of The Biggest Loser is also featuring a trio of overweight children. Granted, these young people are not put through quite the gauntlet that their adult counterparts are subjected to nor are they even on the ranch for the whole time, but the idea of our younger generation facing the uphill battle of weight that they do is an all too real one. Hearing the stories of these young people, stories of dashed self-esteem, of being bullied, and of ultimately their self-worth being questioned, it pained me, particularly as a father and as one who’s walked to road of frustration over my weight.
Oh, to some who know me, that may come as a revelation but, to me, it’s always been there. I was a pretty skinny kid growing up, to a point. Then my metabolism decided to play tricks on me, slowing my growth up, and my waistline began to expand. Of course, I was a kid and that sort of up-down thing was to be expected. And in some ways, they were right. I was a growing boy and I did eventually shoot back up, my girth mellowing out with my height, but then it would happen again and I’d be the fat kid again.

One of my most poignant memories from growing up is from eighth grade and a classmate (I can still remember his name to this day), calling me a “Fat ass.” Even as I write it, it sounds so simple but the tone and even his facial expressions are indelibly printed upon my memory. And what pains me, is he was right. I was a fat kid.
Now, thankfully, I discovered the sport of volleyball in about the sixth or seventh grade and was really able to push that hard and it really helped with my overall fitness and self-esteem. Granted, it wasn’t the almighty football god of our area but there were enough people involved in the sport, both indoors and out, that took interest and saw my talent and skill that it really helped to shape me as a person.

And of course along with that came interest in other sports like tennis and basketball as well, sports that my volleyball skills and fitness provided me a greater ability to play than I’d ever had.
But deep down, I still was that fat eighth grader getting called “Fat ass!” And when I needed to part ways with volleyball a few years back and basketball soon after (Did I need to part with them? Maybe, maybe not; either way, that’s in the past), those feelings, albeit quietly still held strong.

And for the past couple of years, life has been work, work, work while attempting to be a good dad and father along the way. And those are necessary and good things but they don’t always conspire to create a very healthy lifestyle, particularly when the majority of those “work” elements are desk-bound and sedentary. Let’s be honest, they don’t go too far toward defeating the “fat ass” disease.
And, weird as it sounds, there’s also a sense of boredom that’s set in with those things as well. What’s next? What’s the next big challenge? Sadly, for a few years, that answer has been lacking.

Until this one.
This step into the world of roller derby is one of the weirdest, craziest, and most difficult deals I’ve ever stepped my toes into. I mean, I’m an out of shape guy who’s never been able to skate and who’s been out of the active contact sports for a while. So why not strap on some skates and give it a go, right?

But I have and, as stupid and needy as this sounds, I think it might have just been the step, or roll, as it were, that I needed to take. Because already I’m finding myself starting to dream again. I know, I told you it sounded stupid and needy, right? But I have. Not only am I dreaming about maybe one day managing to skate and compete with the men and women of the Hit Crew of Manatee County, doing more than serving as water boy but stepping out onto the floor and delivering my own punishing hit or two and, who knows, maybe even jamming a time or two (only when we’re ahead by a bazillion, of course!) but I’m starting to revisit old dreams from the past as well.

Dreams like getting in shape.
Dreams like pursuing my writing and maybe, just maybe, working at making a living out of it.

Dreams of inspiring others and helping them along the way.
Ultimately, dreams of not settling for good but great, dreams that are big and lofty and give me something to fight for.

And if I find myself wrestling with wanting to go to practice one night soon, that’s just what I’ll reflect on, remembering what just a few steps have brought to me. Imagine what I’ll be sounding like a year from now?
As long as I don’t start blubbering like those cats on Biggest Loser, we’ll be just fine. (And yes, now I’ll most likely be watching alongside Coupon Clip-Her to see who the big winner will be this year…)

In the meantime, dream big and pray for me to please master that dreaded snowplow.


  1. :) Toes in, heels out. Get low.

  2. See, that's the science of it, which my brain, believe it or not, cognitively grasps. But the art of it, that's another story...It's funny to me that when I'm trying to learn to get going with this, one of the most challenging things has been learning to stop...There's some sort of Confuscious saying in there somewhere...