Tuesday 9 June 2015

The State Of Me...

Me & Dude, 6th June 2015
A year ago today, I spent the afternoon sitting on our patio with Alison & Dude, enjoying the sunshine as I read “NOS4R2” (I was a judge for the BFS awards) and they made loom bracelets.  At one point, I got the camera and took some family photos but didn’t think too much of it until I downloaded them onto the laptop that evening.

I looked at myself in the pictures, one in particular and was disgusted at what I saw.  There was Dude, looking cool in his Superman t-shirt, cuddling up to Jabba The Hutt.  I knew I was overweight - looking back at pictures, I’ve been that way for a LONG time - but seeing this one image made me realise just how bad I’d got, how far I’d let things slide.  As I stared at that picture, fascinated, I decided I was going to change things.  I started dieting the next day but, since I loved my pizza and burgers and crisps, sweets and biscuits (and was afraid of falling at the first hurdle), I didn’t tell anybody I was doing it.  I started doing simple exercises in the morning - press-ups, stomach crunches - but kept them quiet too.

The first person I told was Dude, who caught me exercising one morning and asked what I was doing.  I told Alison next, though she’d already guessed something was going on.  My Mum mentioned it to me a couple of weeks later.

In the picture that disgusted me, I weighed 18st 6.75lbs (258.75lbs or just over 117kgs).  I’m 5ft 11 and even though I don’t think the BMI is a great measure, it showed mine as 35.9 and well into the “obese” end of things.  I didn’t do much exercise (I cycled with Dude but didn’t walk far), I sometimes got out of breath walking up the stairs and I was now buying, as a matter of course and without thinking of exactly what it meant, XXL t-shirts.  Staring at the picture, I knew something had to change because if it didn’t, I wouldn’t see my boy grow up (and my heart attack, less than two months away, would be a stark reminder of my mortality).

I’d got into the habit, somehow, of eating far too much crap.  Alison is a great cook, she makes lovely meals but her well balanced menu wasn’t the problem - it was the pizza (if not two) I had EVERY week, it was the burger & chips I had most weeks, it was all the chocolate bars and crisps I ate (some quite late at night), it was all the sweets I picked up over the weekend.

Feeling the cold... 
Walking in December 2014, in plenty of layers 
(scarf and sweatshirt not pictured!)
The picture gave me the trigger that I needed to make a difference.  I started walking, I took Dude out for more cycle rides, I cut the pizza down to one a fortnight, the burgers went almost completely.  I cut back on the crisps (at one point, I’d been eating 4 packs a day!), dropped the Club Orange bars from my lunchbox and replaced them with real oranges, developed a liking for chicken salad sandwiches.  I worked hard at it.  By the time of my heart attack, in early August, I’d already dropped 17lbs and it was noticeable to those around me (though I couldn’t really see it, except my work trousers were now being held up by my belt).  The cardiac episode strengthened my resolve to sort myself out, though it meant I had to take things easy for a while.  After a few sessions at the British Heart Foundation gym class, I gained the confidence to start pushing myself again.  I put the mapmywalk app on my phone, began logging the miles and soon I was doing two or three a night, more at the weekend.  Dude & I cycled until the winter air was too cold then I’d walk more (the weight loss and heart tablets meant I really felt the chill, so I’d bundle up with sweatshirts under my winter coat and body warmer).

The diet (it isn’t really a diet, it is simply a case of not eating crap) bedded itself in slowly and after a while, I didn’t really miss the chocolate or crisps (I now have one packet a day, with my lunch).  Alison taught me a trick she’d picked up at Slimming World, of a treat on weighing day so I took advantage of that and enjoyed it.  We still had chips on occasion but it was a treat, once every couple of months.  I really did miss my lovely Pinocchio’s pizza though and still have one a month, usually on the night of my writing group, then I walk for an hour or so before heading off to our meeting.

I work in Finance, I like lists, what can I say...?
That was a year ago.  This morning, I tipped the scales at 13st 11.5lbs, 193.5lbs (or 88.7kgs), a total loss of 65.25lbs.  My BMI is now 27 and I’m slightly off (the better side) the midway of overweight.  My fitness is better than it has been in decades, I easily walk a 17 minute mile and Dude & I can race upstairs and I’m only slightly more out-of-breath than him (a fit and active 10 year old).  I’m happy, I feel better than I have in a long time, I look a lot better than I have in a long time (the benefit of losing weight slowly - I averaged 1.23lbs a week - is that skin shrinks back properly so you’re not left with unsightly folds) and, more importantly, I’m doing everything I possibly can to help my heart.

There are a lot of lessons I learned from this process but the main one seems to be that if you have the resolve (and trust me, a picture is a real slap-in-the-face of a resolve), you can do it.

And just to put it all into context, this is how I looked a year ago (and no, this isn't the trigger picture...)

(it's also worth mentioning that I didn't do this completely on my own - Alison & Dude have been a fantastic support, as have my Mum & Dad (who found new routes to vary my walks) and friends, plus Iona and her BHF team who showed me just how far I could push myself.  Thank you, one and all.)


  1. This must be fate! I honestly thought about messaging you and asking, how you got started on your weight loss program. Thanks for this timely post and of course, congratulations!

  2. Fantastic. I remember asking you what diet you were on when we were en route to FCon last year. You said, 'The stop eating crap diet'. It works! It was a dose of reality when you told me what to do if you had another heart attack, and slightly worrying when you didn't turn up for breakfast one morning (!) but the difference in you was already visible. Since then, every time I see you, there's less of you. :-) Really proud of you.

    1. Thanks very much Sue! There'll be slightly less again on Thursday at the TP!

  3. Looking first at the 'after' it's hard to believe the man in the 'before' photo is the same man. I don't know you (I followed your post via Sue) but I'd like to add my congratulations and admiration. Well done you!