(I’m at the Salt Lake International Airport, waiting to get on a flight to Austin, Texas. It’s been three months since I’ve flown. While I’m excited to go on a trip with my wife, I’m also a bit nervous. I don’t get the nerves to fly. I’m often on airplanes during the NBA season, following the Utah Jazz around the continent — for my job, not because I’m a groupie.)
I’m nervous — and curiously excited — as we stand in Terminal C. I’m wondering if I will need the dreaded seat-belt extender. I wrote about this in March. Being able to sit in an airplane seat without that annoying and kind of embarrassing accessory is one of my goals.
We’re about to board. I think I won’t ask and see if the weight I’ve lost is enough to let me buckle without the extra belt.
Here we go …
I’m now passing the flight attendants without saying the thing I’ve quietly said to them on every plane I’ve entered for a couple of years, “Hi. Can I have a More of Me to Love Belt?”
I’ve got butterflies. I’m walking down the aisle and not running into people. Nice!
Oops, ran into a seat, but that was because I’m walking while looking at my phone as if I were on a Pokémon Go hunt.
OK. I’m now sitting in Seat 20D of this Delta A320 Airbus, but my wife just braved going to the lavatory so I haven’t tried fastening myself in yet. I’m going to pull the latch all the way to the end of the belt to make it so it can go as wide as possible in preparation.
This might seem weird to you, but this could be a very big moment for me. I just dipped below the 300-pound mark for the first time in almost 2-1/2 years on Monday so this has been a great week. This seat-belt NSV (non-scale victory) would be the icing on the cake. Considering my healthier ways, I guess I should call it the low-fat dressing on my salad.
The suspense is building.
There are a bunch of people coming up the aisle. This could take a while.
Heather just sat next to me. It’s nice to be next to someone who doesn’t mind (usually) if I’m encroaching in their space a little bit. I put the armrest down, something that was usually uncomfortable against my ribs and the side of my overflowing belly. My left side is resting partially on the aisle arm rest, but I fit okay. That’s positive!
I’m nervous. I need to buckle up now, but I’m nervous. Putting on a silly seat belt shouldn’t evoke these kind of deep emotions.
“Here goes nothing,” I tell my wife, who’s as drowsy for this morning flight as I am anxious.
I stretch the longer belt over as far as it will go while holding the shorter end up and …
It’s even a bit loose! I’m going to ignore the thought that maybe this is just an extra large seat belt. Who cares? It fits!
Four months ago this seat belt wouldn’t have come close to wrapping around my belly that barely squeezed into a 4XL shirt and was too large to be measured by a 60-inch measuring tape.
A wave of accomplishment and happiness just rushed through my slimmer body.
“Good job,” Heather told me.
I’m sitting buckled up in an airplane seat without a seat-belt extender on.
Let me repeat that: I’M SITTING BUCKLED UP IN AN AIRPLANE SEAT WITHOUT A SEATBELT EXTENDER ON!
I can’t help but smile.
I’m now thinking back to that column I wrote about bring the fat guy on the airplane. I’m still morbidly obese. I’ve still got a long way to go — about 135 more pounds to reach my ultimate goal, to be honest. But I’m no longer miserable. My mobility and dignity are being restored. This is a wonderful journey.
Now, don’t mind me, but I’m going to sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of this flight.
P.S. A funny thing just happened. I was awkwardly trying to take a photo of myself in the fastened seat belt — the one that clicked without an extender! — and two kind, smiling women across the aisle asked if I wanted a photo from a better angle. They perceptively asked if I’d lost weight. One of them said she’s lost 90 pounds so she can relate. Turns out, we’re headed to the same convention in Austin, Texas, for health coaches who are trying to help as many people as possible get healthy.
I thanked them. A big smile emerged. My throat tightened up and my eyes started sweating as I explained how much weight I’ve lost and how awesome this moment was for me. The difference between this flight and my last one is enormous. It’s interesting to go back and read that blog.
“Now I’m hoping I don’t have to walk too far to catch my connection,” I wrote back in March. “At least I was able to quickly jump out of my cramped seat so I could stand in the aisle while waiting to disembark from my flight.
“The guy in 17D just looked at me. I’m guessing he is thinking that he’s relieved to have not sat by me. He’s by a normal-sized woman. They probably had a comfortable flight. That sounds nice. Really, really nice.”
Four months and 75 pounds later, I can confirm that. It is nice to have a comfortable flight without a seat-belt extender.
Really, really nice.
This week’s weigh-in (didn’t pack my scale, so we’ll stick with Monday’s bonus sub-300 weigh-in):
- Starting weight (March 6): 373.7 pounds
- Last week’s weight (July 15): 301
- This week’s weight (July 22): 298.6
- This week’s loss: 2.4 pounds
- Total loss: 75.1 pounds