By Justin Mazza
All my life my I have been involved in some sort of organized physical activity and developed a competitive nature; from baseball and basketball to soccer and martial arts- I have constantly been involved in a structured sport activity. Growing up and being one of the heavier kids on these teams, I learned to use my size and strength to my advantage, especially in martial arts where I dominated my competition year after year. I won 4 national fighting championships and felt on top of the world. I embraced my size because it helped me rise to the top of my competition.
Then at 19 it all shifted when I made the decision to step away from martial arts and focus on college. I remained somewhat active but nothing as compared to my previous activities. I gained some weight in a few months of starting college and felt my size wasn’t doing anything for me anymore. It no longer provided me with a competitive advantage considering I wasn’t fighting anymore. At that time, I decided to lose weight and started to develop an eating disorder. It started with trying one change to my diet, then another, and another until it spun out of control and I was doing 5 different diets at once. In addition to that, I decided to join a gym and long cardio sessions 6 days a week.
I started comparing myself to the other men at the gym- some were “bigger” than me and others were “smaller” than me. I wanted to be smaller than what I was and ended up dropping a significant amount of weight. I was finally looking like the skinner men at the gym but being that way didn’t make me happy. It didn’t give me any sense of accomplishment where I thought it would. Now that I was “smaller”, I looked at the more muscular men who were much bigger than me and now wanted that! I went from wanting to be small to now wanted to be large- how could this be?
Now in my third year of outpatient recovery and 25 years old, my entire mentality has started to change. Since I lost all that weight so quickly at a muscular developing age, my bone structure is wide especially around my hips and shoulders. I used to think of this as I look “big” but now I embrace it as part of my journey. I now look at other men- some who are “smaller” than me and others who are “bigger” than me and no longer compare myself to them. I no longer say I want to look like that. I am focused on my own health and what my body needs to be happy, not what others look like as compared to myself. I even have men and women compliment my “big” shoulders that I used to be self-conscience about. Its amazing looking back at my recovery journey from where I was to where I am now. I am so excited to see the future of my recovery and hope to help others in their own recovery journey.