At the start of February I decided you were to become my gym buddy. I didn’t drink alcohol in January 2004. The fact that I managed to survive a month against all the pressures from outside meant I knew I had the will power to attack my growing girth. On Monday February 9th 2004 we (you and me) commenced healthy eating (but not a fad diet) and, importantly, an exercise routine.
I do not think that I had exercised in any kind of serious way since I was about 15 when I was forced to take physical education classes (in my final years at school snooker and crown green bowling counted as gym class). Over the years I had been gradually buying larger and larger clothes but it had not alarmed me. I knew I was not fit, I knew I was getting fat but even chest pains in 1997 (when the doctor said ‘lose weight’) didn’t make me give up eating in the excessive quantities that I did.
So, on February 9th 2004 I exercised. And then I weighed myself for the first time in a half a decade. I knew I would be heavy and, to be honest, was not shocked by what the scales said to me. What frightened me was the realisation that if I continued at this rate of gaining weight I would be heaver than 20 stone in less than ten years. It was a little bit of a wake-up call.
On February 10th I ached but on February 11th I hauled myself back to the gym. The exercise was surprisingly easy. I followed my own programme which stuck to ‘fat burn’ routines on the various pieces of equipment (bike, treadmill, rowing machine) and gradually worked up to keep my heart at a good rate of burning fat and that left me out of breath. I did not want to push so hard that I would be put off or, worse, pass out. At times it has been hard to motivate myself to go but not too hard and I have been disciplined enough to ensure that even the occasional lapses were overcome. I promised myself I would not feel guilty about missed days or missed calorie targets – and I haven’t.
During the process I read a lot about other people’s experiences. Lance Arthur’s Fat Headed, from around the time I started this, was probably the most important. It’s all about mental attitude a little bit of will power/self control.
Fortunately for me I have always been a reasonably healthy eater. I do not binge on burgers, chips or masses of fried food. I just ate too much of everything. When I compare the quantity of pasta I used to eat in a single portion against a measured, calorie-counted healthy-eating quantity, I am embarrassed by the sheer greed.
Over the months many things kept me motivated. The laughter when my old trousers would no longer stay up; the move of my Body Mass Index from obese to healthy; the pleasure of buying new (and better fitting clothes) and the comments of people I meet (except for the one customer who told me he’d been scared to say anything because he thought I was ill). I’ve found new ways to enjoy less food and I flabbergasted myself by enjoying the light exercise I do. I have days when I consume more than others. I just know that the occasional bad day is not going to set me back.
I must say that it hasn’t really been hard. Sure, there have been harder days and difficult moments with temptations along the way but I just set my mind to it and the rest came as the results came.
Yesterday was six months to the day since I started this regime. I feel and look healthier and have a whole new wardrobe. I am no adonis with a beefed-up body. I could not say ‘swimmers build’ if I was in the mood to write a personal ad nor would you pass me in the street and notice me. But I am a fitter and leaner me. In some ways I am happier in myself – both for the changes that have occurred and for the feeling that I managed to do it. I lost four stone and so many inches from my waist I won’t even say. I have reached the target I set myself in a much faster time. I am a little spooked that it is six months to the very day!
I do know that this is a way of life now and not something I can – ever – deviate from. I must watch what I eat but it’s becoming instinctive rather than planned. I will continue to exercise and have set myself some goals to ensure I will enjoy it going forward.
As Lance said:
My advice, for those of you unhappy with your current physical situation and hoping for a miracle cure that’ll make you look like the A&F boys or the Conde Nast girls is stop looking for a miracle cure. It doesn’t exist. Eat better food, eat less of it, and get your ass in motion. Move your body in whatever you enjoy. Jog, bike, lift weights, kung fu, yoga, dance, kickbox, soccer, volleyball, swim, whatever, but go out and do it. Ask for help, encourage encouragement, change your life, be happier. [source]
I would like to thank you, my gym buddy, for the help and encouragement throughout the last six months. I think we should go out for a celebratory slap-up meal.