My Previous Blogs
So, first blog post. Where do I begin?
Looking around the internet, in between getting distracted by Honest Trailers or some other filler videos, there’s not much in the way of men sharing their concerns or journeys around being “tons of fun” or their efforts to shed weight. And even less of that which isn’t preaching. There IS a lot of useful information but it doesn’t seem to be collated. There’s a lot of information and sharing from fitness fanatics, a lot of people bemoaning (or denying) their weight issues and a plethora of books marketed to women, promising a flatter tummy or a Bacon Lettuce and Tomato workout to burn off that cellulite. But for the larger man who’s looking for a one-stop-shop? Not so much… Information is everywhere and not much of it is targeted at me!
I’ve suffered weight creep over the past few years. I’d love to be able to blame a slow metabolism or some sort of genetic or physiological problem (almost praying for that excuse!) but I have to be realistic. I’ve gained weight. Why? Because I consumed more than I needed. The reasons why I’ve done that are not as important at this time as acknowledging that I’ve eaten too much and trying to do something about it.
I know this may prove somewhat tedious. I have three things to do as a priority :
1. Buy myself a new set of scales. I’m electing for an all singing, all dancing set with body composition monitoring and memory, which weighs in 0.2lb increments. It may be overkill but I like my technology. And this is a fresh start, a new chapter (very important to get that mindset, I feel). Determining when I’m going to weigh myself, it’s first thing in the morning, after toileting but before showering.
2.Start a food diary. I’m office based, I have a mobile phone, so my diary is going to be electronic. I’ve thrown together a simple diary on a spread sheet on which I can note down what I’ve actually eaten PLUS the calorific value of what it is at the time. Then a quick sum at the end to give me a daily value.
3.It’s always important to note the starting point of any journey, especially when it’s a deliberate starting point. For that reason, I take pictures of myself, both fully clothed and in my underwear, straight ahead and in profile. I do NOT want to be this large ever again and I want to ensure I have a record as a motivation. I have attached these to this blog submission to show that I am being completely and utterly 100% open with this (and more selfishly to ensure I have certain motivations)
I weigh myself as soon as my scales arrive and note it down. I know it’s important to do the food diary as a priority too. It may be somewhat a self-fulfilling conceit – I reckon that just by noting down and keeping a running tab on what I’m eating, I’ll reduce my intake… Honest…
Dec 1st 2104
Weight: 28 stone 11 lbs (still) Overriding emotion: Frustrated (with myself)
I guess on the plus side, I am at least now stabilised. Given that Christmas is coming up (beer, food, chocolates bought by original people who decide not to just buy you Slim Fast as a “gag” gift, parties), I know I’ll probably not be able to lose a material amount of weight between now and then. However, I do NOT ever want to weigh more than 28 stone 11 lbs ever again, so I’m going to limit myself to 2300 kcals a day (should mean a theoretical 2 lbs weight loss a week) but allow myself a blowout on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years’ Day – whilst still keeping tabs on what I eat, just to depress myself later… I should also say that I do feel bad for women. I’m tallish, my weight distributes “well” in so far as people are either polite or genuinely can’t tell that I’m pushing 30 stone, I can consume a frankly ridiculous number of calories a day and theoretically not gain weight but for women? Not so lucky – they can’t eat as much as me, most likely aren’t as tall or broad, so I do feel bad for them when it comes to losing weight, it just must be so much harder and more soul destroying!
I know my head is still not quite in the right space to attack a weight loss regimen, but it’s getting there, slowly I’m getting more annoyed with myself and my seemingly ill-disciplined approach to consumption (guess I could just say gluttony). Hopefully taking a softly, softly approach will “force” me into starting properly as I get increasingly irritated with myself and my own weaknesses… and if that doesn’t work, the scary, half-naked picture I’ve set on my phone front screen (and at least I know if anybody’s gone into my phone, as they’ll be scarred) should serve as a constant reminder of what I look like under my loose fitting clothes – moobs and all…
Jan 26th 2015 Weight: Unknown (but my trousers do feel a smidgeon less snug) Overriding emotion: A bit “meh!”
Hello again! Apparently, the third week of January is when people typically give up on their resolutions. I will admit, it’s been almost a month and I still haven’t actually picked up my bass guitar to start learning to play.
Given that I didn’t start on my “determined” approach to lose weight until the 12th January anyway, I’m guessing I have a bit longer to go before I hit that wall… The reason for my delay in starting in earnest? A couple of things:
Too much food left over from Christmas, which needed eating / food banking.
The desire to NOT see this as a New Years’ Resolution (I’ve already said, I HATE the whole concept there).
I also haven’t weighed myself as of yet. I take the view that at least 5lbs lost in the first two weeks of any “diet” is going to be water loss, which rehydrates in the third or fourth week (thanks, biology), so to save excess swings in my readings, I’m going to weigh myself every third week, as that should also compensate for natural weight changes (and mitigate those familiar “angry” feelings where you have a brilliant week but end up staying the same weight or even putting on a fraction of a pound. We all have been there).
How have I done then? OK, I think. I’m limiting myself to 2150 kcals a day, which should represent around 2lb weight loss per week – although I HAVE cheated a lot more than I should have done, I’ve still managed to average out to around a 1000 calorie deficit a day. And I’m still determined to lose weight, so it’s a positive that the lure of burgers, crisps and sweets hasn’t removed that (I will add in the caveat “yet” just to cover myself!!!). I haven’t yet signed up to a gym or started a program of regular exercise but I’ll talk about that next time.
I do know that staying motivated is going to be a big challenge, so it’s important to keep a constant reminder of what I look like. To that end, I have a picture of myself on my phone lock screen, to remind me WHY I’m trying to lose weight. But I find it’s also important to keep in mind where this “must lose weight” drive has come from internally (NOT from somebody else).
So, what has truly triggered my determination to lose weight? Scanning through Facebook and seeing the photos of my brothers’ stag do and wedding last summer, where I was Best Man, is what. I felt great on the day, felt well dressed, delivered a decent speech (which I had to make up on the fly, given that my bro asked me about my speech and then proceeded to STEAL all the good bits), drank far too much, all was good. But now, everywhere on Facebook are links to official photos, sly pictures taken clearly with the aim of future bribery, my brothers’ profile pictures in every medium fluctuate between being of the happy couple or he and I together. I cannot articulate how bad it makes me look – my brother is of average build, good looking chap, my height, looks like my paternal grandfather – I look like a chuffing tank! In fact, I look like a tank who’s swallowed a tank and looks shockingly wide despite wearing a tailored, bespoke suit. I look even worse when compared to the football playing, skinny ushers and my face just looks… shapeless, like a mass of face on a mass of body. And so, I’ve provided a picture of my brother and I together at our first suit fitting to scare you!
Denial is not just a river in Egypt… I knew that my weight had been creeping up for a few years now, since I got really ill, as I’ve been “repurposing” my larger trousers that I used to wear. When my wedding suit measurements revealed my waist, hips and chest all came in at 66”, I should have kicked into gear at that moment but didn’t. Seems that I was still hoping it was all a bad dream, that me becoming clumsier as my gut knocked things over that I used to be able to squeeze past.
I do try to avoid photos of myself in general, either looking at or having them taken of me. It’s not that I don’t know I’m fat, it’s just that I already know so don’t need empirical proof!
Still… onwards and upwards!!! Well, downwards, hopefully… And next time, I’ll know what my weight is for the first time since I started this “lifestyle adjustment” path (no, not my “Die” with a “T”).
March 2015 Weight: 27 stone 5 lb Overriding emotion: Oddly content
So, pre-weigh in I had two aims:
Whilst I’ve had a strange man-flu thing for a few weeks which has caused somewhat of a diet “crash and burn,” I already knew I had done OK. That feeling of when your trousers are less tight (it’s often easier to pick up on this if you alternate trousers. I’m not ashamed of admitting I have only two pairs of trousers that I wear for work!) is one that always makes you feel good about your efforts working. Same as that feeling when you’re Altar Serving and your trousers fall down. Or when you have to close your belt buckle two holes in rather than the first. All these things tell you your efforts aren’t in vain and the first time it happens for weight loss reasons, it’s epic!
With a view to having a smaller gut, I have started working through some of my old clothes to find the “next weight-loss stage” ones: those I can theoretically wear in the near future, even though I got rid of a load previously with the thinking “I’ll never gain this weight again.” I also took the opportunity to blow my food budget for the next two months and bought myself some new clothes – it’s a great feeling for me (less so for my wallet) but still doesn’t compare to successfully hitting my first targets.
One of the things that has always narked me is purchasing clothes in my size and the cost of them. I have several friends in America and the larger of us exchange tales about clothing and price – even with limited audience and VAT over here, I cannot reconcile the fact that a regular T-shirt can cost me 400% more than the equivalent elsewhere. Even when thinner, I’ll not be able to buy off the hanger from many places as their T-shirts are too short (if you’re 2XL and a man, you clearly can’t be any taller than 5’6”) so will still attract a premium. I know there is a material cost consideration (I used to work as a buyer, so understand the economics) but also know that the material cost is actually a fairly minimal aspect of any garment selling price and that the amount of work is only marginally more (slightly more stitching required).
It annoys me still further that “big man shops” can afford to have sales at certain points of the year where they can more than halve their regular prices. That suggests to me that the premium ISN’T really from the suppliers but is actually from the end-merchant. Still, I guess the “super larger size” market remains pretty niche given we don’t have the same economies of scale or extreme obese issues as the United States do…
But rant over. It’s been a strange few weeks, all things considered. I’ve been contemplating many things. A TUPE transfer ongoing at work. Neither my brother or sister being well (no, not weight related – I’m the chuffer of the three of us!). Parents being parents. Personal life stress. But something I keep coming back to – when being selfish – is around the difficulties, problems and challenges I will face in maintaining this charge: the biggest issue envisaged is getting the time to do what I want and need to do. It’s a pretty bog-standard excuse on the surface, the ultimate expert procrastinators’ problem: I only have time to procrastinate, I don’t have time to do.
Probably the worst aspect of my job is the commute. I work a regular 10-6 shift, with normally 3 or 4 later nights a month until 8pm. But I work 50 miles away from my house (long story) and am completely dependent on the motorways around Birmingham to get to work – the joyous M5 or M6, followed by the M42 and the M40. I am categorically not a morning person, it takes me about an hour to shake the cobwebs off fully which often happens whilst driving. I need to leave the house at 8:30am, often not getting back until 7:20am if not working a later night. I know I need to start hitting the gym or swimming regularly (perversely, I quite like the gym) but have also made a conscious decision to NOT do this until I’ve managed to drop under 25 stone: I already have a long-standing knee sports injury and don’t want cause any serious damage to myself. When I try to add into my plans spending time with my family, housework (although I am probably the least domesticated elephant in the world), gaming and catching up on world events (I desperately want to say “watching TV” too, but I know that’s purely a needless time-filler), I really and genuinely struggle to work out how I can fit in exercise. Regardless of what I feel is solid reasoning, it’s a bit of a cop out. Yes, I know it feels like an excuse. Yes, I know it probably is an excuse. No, I’m not really sure how to fix it at this point but yes, I do plan to…
Weight: 27 Stone 7 lbs. Overriding emotion: Rage
Sorry this update has been a while coming – fell off the wagon faster than a drunken bull in a burlesque fabric shop… I didn’t feel it would be easy but I didn’t think I’d be tempted so quickly and be so open to temptation which early into the process.
It’s strange, I feel almost compelled to make excuses, to justify why I have put on 2 lbs rather than losing half a stone, which was my aim. When I started writing this, I initially was going to bemoan that I’d had a period of great personal upheaval with a death, a potential birth, an unexpectedly high credit card bill prompting a lack of liquidity, several birthday parties at which I overindulged. But then I thought to myself: why am I making excuses? It’s bad enough that I procrastinate so very much but to add excuses into the mix? That really does make me look pathetic.
In the same way as I’ve met larger people in the past who place the blame on providence, serendipity, upbringing or depression, I need to cut through that. I NEED to understand, I NEED to redress the balance. I’ve gained weight because I’ve made some really foolish choices:
I think the loss of focus is what threw me really. That’s where my key fail was. In truth, I have felt down but I need to find a way to both retain my focus on my goals and not defaulting to “I’m down. Let’s eat something.” My relationship with food is very strange in some ways – I don’t really get “enjoyment” from eating per se and I wonder how many people find the same. Don’t get me wrong, on the (very) rare occasion that I eat in a five star restaurant or indulge in fine dining, then I thoroughly enjoy it. But day to day? Very rarely. And when watching my calories, when I do cook (which is admittedly a lot rarer than it should be) is pretty Spartan. So why do I just turn to rubbish? Where has this behaviour come from and how can I change it totally?
My sister, Mel, and my Mom are also trying to lose weight. Mel has always been a yo-yo dieter so goes up and down a lot. My Mom goes up and down but more slowly (especially as she’s got older) and needs to lose weight so she can get her hip replaced. I was talking to them about “getting back on the wagon” and how I was really struggling with it, so they’ve suggested I do what they do when they go “full runaway” – go on a Detox. Another friend suggested I go try hypnotherapy and try to convince myself that eating jelly sweets is actually eating cockroaches or similar (I think I’ll pass – at least unless I get properly desperate!).
Whilst I’m not 100% convinced – going full Detox is expensive and frustrating from experience, leaving me liable to gnaw on my own carcass – I concede that I may need to do something fairly radical to kickstart this properly again. I have no (reasonable) excuses, I am currently running behind the wagon as it races downhill, trying desperately to leap on a regain control.
Wish me luck – I’ll update you in a few weeks as to how I’ve got on…
Weight: 27 Stone 6.5 lbs. Overriding emotion: Positivity (finally!)
I’ll start by being honest: a loss of half a pound over the past month is categorically not good. Lots of things have happened that have meant I’ve taken my eye off the ball – I’d stopped checking or reviewing my calorie intake and wasn’t paying active attention to what I was or wasn’t doing, focusing instead on work and family matters. Oh, and I really need to stop drinking shop-bought iced tea after developing somewhat of a taste for it. 162 kcals per 500ml bottle! Really need to find a home recipe for it so I can make a diet version…
I knew I needed a kick (as my weight had actually crept up to 27 stone 11) so I bought a Fitbit Charge HR. Must admit, it’s shown me that doing a desk job where you commute 50 miles each way really is not advantageous to hitting step counts or similar! My average, which includes occasional weekends away, is just over 4,000 steps a day, which is horrendous when compared to the minimum recommended 10,000 steps daily! It didn’t really give me the kick I needed (and hoped for!), so I’ve really had to re-focus my efforts on getting back on track.
One thing that my Fitbit has shown me is that I really do not do enough cardio exercise by a long shot. Joining a gym is still on my “to-do” list but my Bestie convinced me a few weeks ago to join her (i.e. I provide the transport!) at a beginners Salsa class. Now, I have rhythm. Kinda. I still see myself as semi-musical even though my bass guitar is still sitting happily on its stand having not been played since I got it at Christmas. It’s a strange experience, beginners Salsa – I am by far the sweatiest (thus presumably, least fit!) person there – I can keep going for the whole hour session but my T-shirt is invariably soaked. And I really do suck at it. In my head, there’s nothing to stop me being the next Anthony Beak (hairline, natural talent and waistline aside) but at the moment I feel about as coordinated as a drunken sailor at sea during a particularly heavy storm! I do wonder why I went back after the first week of feeling like a blob fish in a sea of clownfish but I know why – it’s FUN!!!
Now, I’m a smidgeon ashamed to admit that fun is one thing that’s been missing from my life for a while and this is the first time for a long time I’m genuinely enjoying something. I find that I do things “just because,” like watch TV or play computer games and I do get a degree of pleasure and sense of unwinding from them. But they’re not really a fun activity. I’m wondering whether losing all the weight I did just to put two-thirds of it back on impacted me more deeply than I thought; maybe I was very down about it but hadn’t realised; maybe I allowed myself to drop into a funk and didn’t stay as active as I should have; maybe the subtle aches and pains that have returned as I put the weight back on were welcomed more as though they were old friends returning from a sabbatical rather than the unnecessary and unhelpful hindrance they actually are? I remember when I first dropped below 20 stone – an age ago now – and I’d embarrass my then partner with my energy, having a boogie in checkout queues, chatting to randoms, occasional skipping, pretty much unshakable optimism and my personal confidence through the roof.
So yeah, I needed fun, needed something different, needed something to remind me what fun feels like. Now I’ve remembered what it feels like to actually enjoy myself, I’m going to start actively seeking it out to have more. Food is a crutch to me but when there’s something else, my focus on it is decidedly lessened. So I’m feeling positive – not because I fell off the wagon or the fact I’ve lost ½ lb, but because I have found something that I believe will help me and because I’ve reversed the slide and (I think!) got my old mind-set back. I’ll let you know whether it’s kept up…
I genuinely like being me, I don’t think anybody else could pull it off as well… but I hate it when I’m not being me, as in truth I hadn’t been since I got ill in 2011, and don’t realise it!!!
Weight: 28 stone 1 lb. Overriding emotion: Fury and disbelief
Well, that really was a shocker! Counted calories (I believed accurately) throughout, been regularly hitting the Salsa class, theoretically shouldn’t have been too bad. Admittedly, one “bad” week due to my birthday but seriously? Gaining 8.5 lbs??? I expected 1-2 to have crept on, especially as none of my clothes have got any tighter (no looser either but that’s another story!). Very, very depressing! I know, most people gain weight on holiday but I didn’t even go anywhere! I don’t even have the excuse of an All Inclusive break or a whistle-stop tour of eateries to blame.
Birthdays are lame. I’m officially 35. Middle Aged. They’re even lamer when certain family members, aware you’re trying to shift some tonnage, buy you all sorts of sweet things – none of which you don’t like, although I’ve not yet tried the beer-flavoured jelly beans! – to show you how much they care and think about you. Damned enablers. And damned lack of willpower when faced with jelly sweets or real Turkish delight. In some ways, I miss the comedy gold of people buying me Slim Fast or laxatives, a regular occurrence at my old workplace…
So, where to go from here? I will confess, at the start of this week following my weigh-in, I was completely despondent and dejected. Not to mention angry. Very, very angry. I’m talking turning green and smashing the place up levels of fury there as I have undone about 40% of my work thusfar. Previous efforts had clearly failed: I needed something, anything, to snap me out of it so I binned my calorie and weight tracker sheet and started afresh. Completely reworked it. Reduced down my allowed calories each day, recalculated everything else (now that I’m a year older, my Resting Metabolic Rate is ever so slightly slower!) and have generally just been horrendously mardy.
The irony of me gaining what – to my mind – feels like the weight of a small child is not lost on me, given that I have actually joined the gym properly and have settled into a decent cardio/resistance pattern, whilst also signing up for a year-long salsa class membership (as I’m notoriously tight, that means even if not in the mood, not going will drive me mental!). I’m exercising at least 4 times a week, which is a huge improvement on the zero times per week when I started this blog although it feels very scant consolation. The weight gain in turn has led to me feeling particularly “grrr” about the fact I have gained so much weight – to keep it optimistic, at least it’s “grrr” rather than “meh” as I know from experience that “meh!” means there’s no hope for me…
I guess this just highlights how easy it is to get despondent, even when you’re trying to stay positive, having fun and following a programme you think will work for you. I have two friends who have both lost well over three stone in the time it’s taken me to lose a whole 10 lbs (since the turn of the year). But, clinging desperately onto positives, I can now mambo(ish) and think I have been bitten by the Salsa bug!!!
Even more strange, having bounced between feeling frustrated and isolated for the best part of a week, writing this down has actually made me feel more positive and allowed me to focus. Although I am attending a couple of weddings over the next few weeks, I’m very hopeful that I’ll have stayed the course and I may even be able to “bust-a-move” on the dance floor (keep an eye out for any news stories from the South about a fat man crushing several wedding guests to death after slipping whilst “dancing!”)
It’s been a while since I updated and I know, I know: back to square one weight wise (even if I do have a bit more muscle). The first problem is: I really want to reel through a list of things to “explain away” my bad head space. Mom had a hip replacement and managed to hit a one-in-a-thousand series of problems and blunders that have resulted in her needed a bit more hands on care for longer than expected, balanced between my siblings and I. The euthanasia of a cat who was only just 4 years old because he drank antifreeze and the associated £500 bill, which really wasn’t appreciated for what amounted to 45 minutes of emergency vetinary care. Uncertainty (and boredom!) at work and money concerns. All of those things I want to share but deep down, they’re quite empty excuses. I pride myself on being fairly well adjusted but I do sometimes wonder whether I’m just kidding myself.
I have still counted calories as honestly as I can, and still think my intake is running at a level that means I at least shouldn’t be gaining weight but equally, I have probably been averaging about 3-4 takeouts of some sort a week, be it chip shop, sandwich shop, Chinese, Indian, pizza or fast food. I’ve also slipped into that notorious territory of “I’ll just have this one blowout then from Monday I’ll…” diet procrastination. Add into that I’ve somehow lost my dance practice shoes and I’m doing really well! And since signing up to the gym on a years’ contract, I’ve been once. Once. In three months. Yeah, that’s a fail!
But let’s not dwell on the negative, let’s look at the positive. It’s nearly Christmas (yay!). I have a ‘Salsa weekend’ coming up, whereby I will spend 6 hours on a Saturday and 6 hours on a Sunday trying desperately to become a better dancer and try to break my current affliction: I can only do two or three moves in sequence before a combined brain / body short circuit results in me moving like a robot with no sense of timing having a seizure. I’ve also started recording sequences as the classes cover them, in the hope that I can get over this curiosity. I’m still managing to hit 2 classes a week, doing both the beginner and intermediate classes at each. My calf muscles have got more definition than when I was a regular badminton player and I’ve not managed to aggravate my long standing knee injury (yes, I know. Fat bloke using the term “sports injury” – I can feel the eye rolls!).
One strange thing that came up in conversations about weight I’ve had with my Mom during her recovery time has been experiences I really didn’t remember. I know I saw dieticians pretty much throughout my primary school days and my adolescent years but don’t remember much about them, other than female dietician who was stick thin, scoffed when I asked if she’d ever been fat or exercised herself with whom I ended up having a bit of a heated discussion with. Apparently, concerns were raised about my own wellbeing due to the relationship with my Dad and his relationship with me, the suggestion being that my father was disinterested and that all I really wanted was for him to pay an interest with me, the pain of that being covered in jelly sweets and other nice foods. Seems odd that it’s taken me until my 36th year for Mom to share this with me. Apparently, a regular footnote in all my medical meetings concerned my Dad, with one doctor asking my Mom “what chance does he really have when he has a father like that who will give no support?”
I don’t really know what to make of this – I know I want to lose weight. I know I managed before without much effort both before and after I moved in with my Aunt. I know I can do it. I know that whilst I cite the time I got really ill as when I stopped losing the weight, I only started gaining again when Dad got ill. Have I really repressed lots of memories and a lot of pain as opposed to – as I felt – dealing with it? Lots to ponder, lots to consider… and damn, I really wish people would stop bringing sweets into work. My willpower at the minute is less than an alcoholic at an open bar…
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