Saturday, August 25, 2012


This piece is sort of personal, and it wasn't easy to write. I was a fat kid. I managed to lose a lot of weight when I was a teenager, but I did it the wrong way. I was depressed about my weight, and channeled those emotions into motivation to stop eating junk food and to exercise. It did the job; I lost weight. But it didn't solve my deeper problem, which was poor self image. In fact, it might have just made the problem worse.

If you're trying to lose weight right now, good for you. I hope you do it, and I hope you learn something from mine (and Benny's) mistakes.

"Mars" (611 words)
Aaron M. Smith- 25 August 2012

I couldn’t go back to sleep.

I got out of bed and headed down the hall to the bathroom, taking my phone with me. The alarm would be going off soon.

I stared at my face in the bathroom mirror for what felt like an hour. I felt like crap. Why is it that, on days when you needed sleep the most, you never seem to be able to get any? I splashed my face with cold water and started to put in my contact lenses.

My eyes fell on the bathroom scale, on the floor next to the sink. My old nemesis. I’d been fighting that damn thing for as long as I’d been self-aware. My parents said it was genetics, but that gave them too much credit. I was fat.

I didn’t want to get on the scale, but I felt compelled to.  I didn’t have any choice in the matter. I was a mosquito flying headfirst into a Bug Zapper. I stepped on and watched the needle lurch upward.

I stared at the scale and wished I lived on Mars. I wondered if NASA was planning on sending any spacecraft to join the Curiosity Rover anytime soon, and if they needed volunteers to drive the thing. I have my license. There aren’t even any other cars to hit. How hard could it be?

Thirty pounds. That was what I was shooting for. I once heard that you shouldn’t try to lose more than ten percent of your body weight at once, but this was important. I was a Junior. Prom was in eight months. That meant I had seven months, maybe less, to find a date.

And, if history served, nobody wanted to date Fat Benny.

I couldn’t stare at the scale anymore. I stepped off and miserably watched the needle plunge back down to zero. On Mars I’d only weigh eighty-seven pounds.

“You can’t want to lose weight just to find a date for prom,” My best friend Chuck’s words drifted back to my brain. Chuck, the track star, the girl-magnet. The guy who would never have to deal with a weight problem in his whole life. “You’ve got to want to do it for you.”

What did that even mean, for me? I DID want to do it for me. So that me could find a date to prom. How was that so hard to grasp? I ran my fingers through my hair and watched it stick up in all directions in the mirror. I guess I understood what he meant. I couldn’t try to lose weight just to impress girls. But I wasn’t happy. Losing weight would make me happy. And if it helped me find a date to prom, so what? That was just, like, more motivation to do it. How could additional motivation be a bad thing?

My phone chimed. I glanced at it, sitting on the bathroom sink where I’d laid it. The clock on the front said 6:15am. I opened the text from Chuck.


I groaned. I was most definitely not ready for some workout. But Chuck said I could go to the gym with him, in the morning, when it was mostly empty. He said getting a routine and a work out buddy is the easiest way to get started.

I threw the scale one last dirty glance on my way out of the bathroom. 

“I will defeat you,” I vowed.

The scale didn’t respond. I turned, having had the last word, and went to find my running shoes. 

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