|Photo on the left was from August 2016, the photo on the right is from August 2018|
My name is Speed on the Beat. I could talk to you for days about my health (go listen to my albums, shameless plug). So, I’ll make this one shorter than it could be. If I ramble, please bear with me, as I’m treating this as a cathartic experience as well.
I’ve struggled with body image issues for years and hated having my shirt off because I’ve struggled with my weight since I was a preteen. Back then, not everyone was okay with being body-positive, as they are these days. When I was growing up, I was always “the fat kid.” And it’s weird because I wasn’t ever really the fattest kid in the class or what have you. However, I was also short, so I looked like a damned Butterball up until I met Ms. Pink Jacket.
Hooray for losing some of the baby fat while playing soccer and, you know, #puberty.
I used to make jokes about it to beat others to the punch, not really knowing that putting myself down was kind of as bad as letting someone else do it. Now, I’m not overly “sensitive” or what have you. I mean, I emote and share my feelings. I’m just not going to cry over everything. For years, you’d never see me shirtless. Even when I was pouring sweat off me like sheets of rain (gross image, I know), I wouldn’t take off my shirt, lest open myself up to (possibly) being judged for being a chubby dude. Dealing that that sort of thing, while it seems small, it can have a huge impact on your health.
I then started seeing folks larger than me being open about their stuff. I’m talking like that one dude on Twitter, Dre, who’s working to get himself back in shape. I was like “yo, go y’all” but I never had the courage to do it myself. I ballooned up to about 230 pounds in the process. Keep in mind I’m only about 5’7″ on a good day. In other words, I was incredibly unhealthy (and I’m just talking physically in this post). While I’d stopped drinking in 2015 after Mama Young’s death and some other traumatic events, I was still in pretty bad shape for someone of my frame. Friends like Drizzle Sez noticed it, but I brushed them off because I was like “eh. I’m still alive, at least.”
Then, 2016 happened. That was the year I dealt with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. After I survived that, I was still alive, yes. But, I was different. I was discolored, scarred, without a layer or two of my skin, more susceptible to acne (not to mention other actual life-threatening things and reactions) and more scarring. Add on a blood pressure measurement that was very likely to lead to a death-inducing stroke before forty, along with other ailments? I was even more messed up than before. Something in my head clicked.
One day, while feeling down about everything, I asked myself two questions. I said, “Speed, do you wanna die before your kids are in college? Do you want to live or just be alive?” My answer, obviously, was “no, I want to live.” From that day forth, I’ve been pushing myself to be better. That’s what helped me get myself into gear and start to lose weight.
Over the past two years, I’ve been out here, losing weight and taking off my shirt more often. I’m still not at the point I’m going to walk out the house shirtless. I still have some “moobage” that I want to take care of. But, I’m getting there. Overall, I’ve lost around 50 pounds in two years. Because of that, I’m also the closest to living my best life than I’ve been in years. My blood pressure is down (with some medicinal help), my confidence is boosted, and I’m able to work out a lot more than before 2016. I’m definitely healthier and more in control than I was in 2016, and I didn’t have any magic pills or “ancient secrets” to do it, either. It took a buttload of self-control, self-care, and growth as a person.
Long story short, I’ve learned to love myself and take care of myself. I’ve even started to trim my beard more often (and if you know me, you know that having a beard was always a critical thing for me). Through that, I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself and the ability to work on myself. I look back at me at 230 and wish that 230 pound me had this level of confidence, because he could’ve used it. I’m not up here shaming folks who don’t want to lose weight, because you do what you feel is right as a human. However, after losing those fifty pounds and making many lifestyle choices, I’m personally a lot better for the wear than I was.
Here’s to a better me.