Size Matters

At my heaviest I’d typically vacillate between 4xl and 5xl on the regular. I know this sounds ridiculous, but there are some manufacturers out there that make a small 4xl. Hand to God they do.

For many people their clothing is a representation of who they are and what they’re about. It’s also one of the few things we have total control over in our lives. At least, most of us do.

You see, when you’re 5xt you kinda have to put on whatever it is that’s around you. There aren’t a hell of a lot of options.

When I was at my largest I’d often buy clothes that were far too big for me so that I could cover myself completely. I wanted to become lost in the fabric. Floating about inside a giant flannel cocoon, drifting along and hoping that nobody would notice.

I remember vividly, as a young man, having somebody I care about ask me if “Omar the tent maker” made my shirt.


It’s kind of funny, right?

It isn’t.

For a moment, just for a flicker, think about the man or woman who has to go into a specialty store and purchase a size 14xl t-shirt — and yeah, they make them that big. Think of what else that person is carrying — outside of the weight. The anguish they are going through must be astonishing.

How do you ever fit in if you simply cannot fit?

Most people of a certain size try and hide. As I did. I still struggle with it. Some days I say “fuck it” I’m wearing a t-shirt that clings — bite me. Other days I try and find shelter. Fortunately, they’re less and less these days.

One of the most interesting things I’ve discovered over the past week is that I have NO idea how a shirt is supposed to fit. “Too small” is in reality just a little too big. I’ve spent so much time hiding that I’ve no clue as to what constitutes a well-fitted piece of clothing.

It’s something that I’ll learn with time and, well, more shirts, most likely.

The image we have of ourselves is often complex. For many people the vision of who we are never lies congruent with the truth.

I spend most of my mental energy these days doing my best Michelangelo impression — chipping away at an uneven block of marble until something beautiful emerges.

The good news is I’m making a hell of a lot of progress. Each day brings with it a new stroke of the hammer, and slowly but surely my true identity is finding its way out of the stone and into the world.

How’s that for big and tall?


35 thoughts on “Size Matters

  1. Hey man it’s a tough road. I have been too the gym and when I step on the scales and don’t see progress I get discouraged. What is your motivator?

    1. It’s hard to pin point one motivation over another. But, I think it’s this desire to discover what I’m capable of. I’ve never had it before, and now that I’ve gotten it I don’t want to let it go. I have no idea if that makes any sense at all. But, the numbers become less important as the days go on. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see the drop… but I love the switch in attitude just a little more.

  2. Hello Dave. I have read selected entries of your blog but have not discovered what major change you have made to lose the significant weight you want to lose. In Ottawa, on a referral from my Doctor, I joined an established weight management clinic at the local hospital. They address weight loss for all sizes above a BMI of 30. It is medically managed and is free except for the cost of food replacement products which are inexpensive. The stats are impressive. Two-thirds of the people that join the program go on to complete it and of those, 60% enjoy permanent weight loss. After over two years I have permanent weight loss and have control of my diet. In my group there were people with a starting weight larger than yours.

  3. Found your blog from your “Downsizing” article on CBC. I’m on a similar journey after discovering I weighed 410 lbs back in May 2013. This discovery happened after being told to go to the ER by the dental surgeon who just happened to take my blood pressure before a wisdom tooth removal. A year and a half later I’m down to 285, still on blood pressure meds, and still working to lose more, but so much healthier and happier. Your words capture so much of the emotion that comes with gaining that much weight and then fighting to lose it again. Just wanted to drop a word of appreciation for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  4. Love this Blog and have just subscribed,keep doing what you are doing.I don’t know you but am enjoying your words and your journey and will be cheering for you all the way.


  5. Hi Dave,
    You have done a spectacular job of describing my experiences and my own feelings considering we have never met or interacted in any way.
    I read the article on the cbc news site and then reading your blog, with my head nodding and all the while thinking that nobody could possibly be living the existence I was, but all the pieces were lining up.
    yes, humor is a wonderful shield but for me, it couldn’t protect me from myself.
    A few years ago, I got the weight off and maintained for a few years too but, and I know that this is an excuse, I got poisoned with mould. It kicked me to pieces because I thought it was a cold, flu, allergy, etc. It scared my wife to death. The other result was psychological. I hated me. A lot. Parts of your blog really resonated with me when you described your own feelings and thoughts.
    The result was I went right back to my old weight and then some. At the doctors office, when I, I repeat, I, decided to do something about this did things change, I got “weighed”.well, actually they didn’t have a scale that I could use in the place that didn’t launch up like a catapult or just read ERR, so I went with a measure that I used before, circumference. 66 inches. Well, talk about a “pick me up”.
    That was in late February. I changed the way I selected what I wanted to eat and I purposefully said that this is NOT another diet. It is a permanent change. I know that my level of control is not a “dimmer switch” like most people, it’s a “light switch” with only an off/on setting and the sooner I accepted that, the easier time I would have.
    Of course, I had friends and family say that I had to follow the Canada food guide but for me, and me alone, what I was doing is working and my doctor is very pleased with the test and physical results. So far it is 20 inches off and counting.
    The pleasure I can take in shopping for mens wear at Walmart is absurd. But I am fine with that.
    I am fitting into clothes that still amaze me because I lived practically my whole life in plus sizes. Instinctively, I will start with 3x to 6x when looking for clothes and then be baffled, in a good way, when I fit into 2x and xl.
    I do find that I need to ignore a lot, and I still see myself as grossly overweight but I hope that will change over time.
    The idea in our society that fat is evil and thin is virtuous is all around us and unfortunately I don’t see this changing any time soon. People judge instantly and that has been true since the species left the trees. But I can do something for me.and me alone.
    The mental effects have been equally dramatic. I am “beginning” to like me, but that takes time.
    I wish for you the very best and I will continue to follow your blog as it resonates with me in a way I find surprising.
    Please continue to share your thoughts as I am sure we are very far from being alone and knowing that this can be controlled gives more comfort than I can explain.

  6. Dave, I enjoyed your piece posted on CBC and wanted to add my encouragement and share two sites that I’m finding useful in the same endeavour: eating regime according to and tracking progress with I have lost and gained more weight in 60 years than I care to remember, and have tried so many fad diets I can’t remember them all. Wound up in the high 200s without realizing quite how I got there. This method actually works, and is un-faddy and sensible. More than 35 pounds in 6 months, and no problems enjoying life since the “fast” (very low calorie) days are done one at a time with at least 2 regular (but careful) days in between. Crave anything on a fast day? You can have it tomorrow (by which time you may not even want it). Best of luck in your effort!

  7. You have a way with words – after reading this, I’ve realized it doesn’t matter whether someone has 400lbs or 30 lbs to lose, we all have the same battles with our self image. I feel the same way about clothes and find the bigger the better – I hate the stress of waking up and wondering if my clothes are going to fit or be too tight.

    Really happy for you, keep the momentum going!

  8. Just read your blog for the first time. Hit home to me at a low point in my life. Inspired me to start taking action today instead of just thinking about it. Thank-you.

  9. Hi Dave,

    I wish you all the best in your journey. You are courageous in exposing yourself like this. Generous too as it will help so many.
    I am also extremely overweight. I was even given a gym membership by the owner and I didn’t take advantage of it. I will continue to follow how you are doing.

    1. It’s never too late to say yes to the membership. It’s great that there are people like that around you. The hardest part, I found anyway, was accepting the help. The bottom line it takes courage, and it comes to everyone in their own time. You may not have used that membership, but someday you will. I betcha.

  10. just read your article on the CBC and was delighted to see you have a blog. love your words, truth and in particular how brave you are to embark on this. i’m still looking for my courage to take the bull by the horns. i’m the queen of excuses and just one more day……lol your statement above about having the desire to discover what you’re capable of, has me thinking. thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Hi, popping over from The CBC site. Nice to meet you 🙂 your post about clothing really rang a bell with me. What you said about clothing is so relevant. Do you sew or have you any interest in learning to sew? There is something so empowering about sewing one’s own shirt. You master a skill, which is incredibly empowering….but you also learn to appreciate your body. You learn to make a shirt that fits you and wearing clothing that fits well and looks good on you helps you to feel good about yourself. As you said, your clothing makes a statement about you. Check out the Curvy Sewing Collective. Maybe there is something similar for men. If there isn’t, there should be. It’s been a real eye opener for me as I am learning the ins and outs of sewing my own garments. I feel so much better about myself.

  12. Keep at it. One day at a time. You may fail to see the changes at times. So try and surround yourself with folks who will show you.
    I only hope you reach the goals you strive for. That you can be happy with the person you are.
    Some things in life are meant to be. Our lots in life are there and it is our decision to either fight or give up.
    Try not to beat yourself up. Life changes take a life time. Esp when our bad habits have been with us for so long.
    You are going to inspire folks. To make the changes they will have to make.
    How do I know???
    Because you already are.
    Good luck!!!

  13. Hey Dave, I’ve been 5xl, into 6xl. I only lost it because I contracted leukemia, and the chemo made me half the man I used to be. I got to 260, but I’m climbing back now. Would love to walk the journey of health with you some how.

    1. Hey Jim,

      Y’know what? When I first started I just went for walks. Short ones. Mainly because it was too painful for long ones. And I’d get winded. I did it three or four times a week. Maybe just a couple of kilometres. Maybe not even that. And then I started adding short distances into the mix. And before long it just wound up getting easier.

      It’s a strange thing. When you’re in the pits you don’t realize that a bunch of small things can add up to something huge. It’s like when hockey coaches talk that crap about “the fundamentals”. Well, it’s not crap. It’s true.

      Your body got you through chemo. That’s pretty tough, man. Imagine what else it could do.

  14. Have you read up on intermittent fasting and the 5:2 diet? That has really helped me – down 27lbs and feel great. I have 10 more to go and hope to reach that by December.

  15. My father & brother asked me at the dinner table when I was 10 (my mom was out of ear shot) if “Omar the tent maker” made my clothes to fit over my spare tire – that stung & it still does. Amazing what we carry with us. Thank you for the inspiration to look closer at the wounds that have never healed and seek the help to finally tend to those psychic scars

  16. Dave, your FIGHT is pretty impressive. The dragon should be scared. Honesty wins every battle. EVERY BATTLE.


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