Saturday, January 30, 2010

This is Some Chris ANGEL Shiz... My Oprah Story

Weight Watchers is magical. Period.

About a year-and-a-half ago, I finally decided that my weight was holding me back from a lot of things that would make me happy. I was never a particularly large person- chubby at most, but still well over the weight that I wanted to be.

When I started high school, I was somewhere in the 130-135lb range. Through the course of the next three years I put on weight, which is totally to be expected as I grew up (well, out...) and filled out (WAY out). The truth is, in high school I only grew about an inch or two more to a shorter-side-of-average height of 5'8". I also graduated at 182lbs. Nooooot quite an even ratio of height/weight gain... I will never forget the day my grandmother looked at me and said, "Wow, you look like you've put on some weight. Your face is round." I love my Mima- always direct and to the point =) But she was right, I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man's tan cousin... but I refused to wear that silly hat.

My first year of college, by no choice of my own, I lost about seven pounds, bringing me to 175, which is fine if you're 6'2" and a swimmer. Unfortunately for all of us, I am neither of these. So when I was accepted into the musical theatre program at MSU it was on a strictly "character actor" basis- no big ballads, a few sidekick one-liners, and a guarantee that you would be "enjoyable" or "cuddly".

So, about a year-and-a-half ago, we did Crazy for You- a huge musical with literally hundreds of props, four giant set pieces that wheeled on from stage right and left, including an entire tavern rigged with exploding coo-coo clocks and a balcony, thousands of feet of wiring for lights and electric, a self-propelled car (that worked on occasion, albeit) and hundreds of costumes. On top of it all, we used the original Susan Stroman choreography, and that's where the trouble came.

I could do all of the dances. Maybe not quite as well as some of the other guys, but the moves were there. The issue was that I was constantly finding myself in the back, to the side, or cut out entirely- being used more in the singing parts. Normally this wouldn't bother me as I don't consider myself a great dancer, but in a show where the main character was the choreography, it sucked to be left out. I started to suspect that the reason I was cut from many of the dances was because of my size.

A lot of the other guys, even if they weren't stick thin, had a muscular or fit physique. They were the ones featured in the tap lines while I cheered from the Feed Store stage left. Long story short (too late), that show broke me down a bit. I realized that if I didn't change, this was going to be my life- featured character actor and a dance routine hidden behind the cool kids. And that was when my best friend (who happened to be playing Polly) introduced me to Weight Watchers.

Over the course of the next three months I lost about fifteen pounds, exercising and following the points system. I got noticed more, was cast as my first leading part in a mainstage (staged concert) show- still a character part, sort of, but a leading part, and was being told that I was more castable. Two months later, and another fifteen pounds, I was down to 145lbs.

The long and short of it is that I'm not usually an advocate for things like fad diets and stuff, but I am advocating this. I know what it's like to struggle with body image, weight, appearance, etc. and I have a great deal of empathy when it comes to things like that. I am still a sincere believer in eating healthy, no matter what your size, and being happy with yourself. If you are happy at a size fourteen, I am happy for/with you. I think a lot of the media has made being average-sized or plus-sized almost a crime, which is not right. The entertainment industry is a terrible role model in terms of body image and weight, setting impossibly high standards (that in many cases, aren't even real considering the amount of photoshopping and airbrushing out in LA LA Land) regarding shape, size, and maintenance of our bodies- trust me, I've been through it. I will never forget the first day of rehearsal for my first show at MSU, the director looked at me and said, "You need to lose some weight." It sucks.

The reason I'm writing about this is that Weight Watchers helped me lose the weight, but I've been noticing lately that if I get close to 150lbs again, I go crazy. I crash diet, I exercise like mad, and tire myself out. While I am a huge advocate for Weight Watchers done in a healthy way, and also (if it's possible) a stern believer in accepting and loving yourself for who and what you are, do not let it rule you. Every time I feel a little more weight on my bones and I start to freak out, I look in the mirror and I force myself to realize that I am beautiful. I am not ugly because of a few extra pounds (nor would I be for a lot of extra pounds). I want to be a part of society that practices what they preach when they say, "Eat healthy, exercise, and live your life proud." That's all I want. I will probably never have a crazy six-pack and a totally lean physique, I'm just not built that way. But I can love myself and think that I'm still worth being loved no matter what I look like, even if there's some room for improvement. That's my own battle.

Anyway, that's the end of my Oprah testimonial. I have GOT to go, because I just ate three croutons, and my fingers aren't going to stick themselves down my throat. A moment on the lips, as they say...

JOKING. Don't freak out.

Song of the Day- 'You Are Loved' by Josh Groban.

Peace, Love, and Beauty.

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