Every morning, the first thing I do after I wake up is weigh myself. Then I scrutinize my body in the mirror. And then I cringe.
For the last 12 years, I've struggled with weight and body image issues. I would look in the mirror and cry at the obese person staring back at me. There were days when I didn't want to get out of bed and face what I'd let happen to my body.
Every day, I'd tell myself I could start making changes tomorrow. But it took the embarrassment of not being able to fit into a tuxedo at my best friend's wedding last year for "tomorrow" to actually come.
And while the fat is gone, the skin of a former me still remains. I do my best to hide it beneath clothes, and I lift weight and exercise to tighten the loose skin as best as I can. But that "perfect" sculpted body I see in magazines doesn't come, no matter how hard I work.
I KNOW that body isn't what every man should look like, but I can't stop telling myself that I could be that guy. I want to look like that guy on the cover of a fitness magazine so when I take my clothes off at night, my wife won't be able to contain herself.
Now, I wonder what she thinks of me. Is she staring at my loose skin? Does it turn her off? I undress in the dark and get into bed, knowing the cycle of self-criticism will start again in the morning.
Yes, I'm absolutely happy with the progress I've made — I know that losing the weight equivalent of another man is not something to be taken lightly — but I still struggle with body image issues.
And guess what? I'm not alone.
As men, body image issues are something we struggle with but often keep to ourselves. We suffer in silence, not wanting to admit that we're human and have weakness. But weight and self-acceptance aren't things only women struggle with, despite the stereotypes.
If we're going to live amazing lives, we have to beat these self-limiting beliefs or they will forever damage our relationships, health and way of life.
Obvious remedies like diet and exercise are great starts, but it's often the things in our minds—the things no one sees—that are the most pressing issues, the ones that need to be talked about and addressed first and foremost.
By holding issues in, the tension and frustration often builds and builds until what started as something tiny has snowballed into a real problem.
My advice? Talk to someone.
It can be a friend or loved one, a professional or simply a supportive listener, but get real and tell them what you've been struggling with. What starts in your mind will manifest outwardly.
Don't let a body image issues keep you from the life you truly deserve.