The main reason I wanted to do this blog was to share my story, because I’m sure there are loads of dads in a similar position to the one I found myself in.
I’ve always kept myself relatively fit, always played sports and done regular exercise, but also always really liked my food! I kept in half decent shape because of the sports but I was always one of the chunkier guys on the team. Big, slow but relatively strong rather than superfit.
This all changed when my wife and I had kids, my sporting activity slowed after the birth of my first child and completely stopped after the birth of my second. This, combined with taking a new job in the city (I commute rather than actually live in London), where I was working irregular shifts and very long hours and virtually living off canteen food Monday to Friday, led to a major shift in my weight.
Men are pretty bad about talking about diets and weight gain, and that’s one of the things I want to address in this blog. We’re very good at saying we need to get to the gym, to tone up, gain some muscle or just generally work out. But as a gender we’re not particularly great at saying “you know what, I eat to much and as a result I’m too fat”.
I was too fat. Much too fat. A year of working in London and eating all the deep fried canteen food my heart desired had brought my soft fleshy body up to 15 stone 7lbs (98.5kg) and a BMI of 30, making me officially obese.
Typical of a lot of men I didn’t immediately say I was on a diet. I was just “trying to eat a bit more healthily” this is something we say because we’re afraid of failure. If it’s not a diet then it doesn’t matter when you don’t actually loose weight. You weren’t on a diet anyway, you were just on a health kick. No embarrassment of being the sad fat guy sat in the corener failing on his diet because he can’t stop eating chips. So I went on my health kick, and I did loose a bit of weight, only about half a stone but it was a start. Unfortunately not long after this we went on a family holiday, a week of all inclusive gorging added most of the weight back on.
When we returned from holiday I decided that diet alone was going to fix this problem. I still wasn’t officially “on a diet” but I was trying to watch what I ate and now I had a shiny new gym membership too.
Starting at the gym is hard, let nobody lie to you, it’s fucking hard. It’s especially hard when you’re 3 stone overweight and trying to hide away in a big baggy tshirt and hope nobody is looking at you. The first few sessions made me want to die. Physically and emotionally it was exhausting, but I persevered. I lost some weight, I started to feel better, I started to do more, I lost more weight.
Just as we get into cycles of a bad lifestyle that lead to weight gain it’s equally easy, with a bit of commitment, to get into a good one that leads to weight loss. As I lost more weight I gained confidence, I started going to spin classes, started to venture off the cardio equipment to go and lift some weights. More weight came off, muscle definition started to appear where it hadn’t been before, albeit in very small amounts, and I started to feel better, I was loosing weight and I still wasn’t “on a diet”!
For me the biggest change came when I finally plucked up the balls to go into the free weights area at the gym. It was a quiet day, no hulking adonis was there repping my entire body weight, and I had read that free weights was the way to go. So I took my still petty flabby body and my frankly pathetic muscles and I went and picked up some dumbells, then I got on the bench press, I even did some squats.
The next months we’re a revelation for me, a revelation I’m still living. The next day my body ached, the day after I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, but I went back, again and again and again. Soon I was doing virtually all weights and no cardio in the gym, saving my cardio for occasional swims and outings on my bike. This is when the most dramatic change came in my body, I was still loosing weight, not as fast, but the scale was still going down, and my body was changing, muscles grew (slowly) definition started to appear (even more slowly) and gradually I started to feel better about myself.
This is where the story has to stop, because this is where I am now, my weight now sits at 12stone 6lbs (72.5kg) and a BMI of 23. I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m happy, but I am at least healthy. Loosing 43lbs (19.5kg) has totally changed my outlook on life. I eat healthily, I go to the gym and lift weights around 4 times a week and have recently signed up to do the Prudential LondonSurrey100 for the Orchid charity. (More on that in later posts!)