Ok, let’s not dance around the point… I’m a fat bloke. I’ve been saying yes to the above question, both out loud and in my head, for the best part of twenty years.
I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember, but I’ve seen pictures that prove it wasn’t always the case. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years trying to work out what happened, who to blame with the futile hope that I can pass the responsibility on to someone else.
Shockingly it didn’t work, I stayed fat regardless of who I aimed the blame at.
In early 2003 I was diagnosed with type II diabetes. That only happened because I was made redundant and moved areas, so I had to register with a new doctor and they insisted I have the full workup. I’m pretty sure I’d had it for many years prior to that, but I’d never connected my symptoms to that possible cause.
Getting that diagnosis made me start to think a lot more on my health, but only superficially. Initially I made no changes, so nothing changed. I’m not making excuses but I had recently been made redundant and had just started a new job which was in fairly unfamiliar territory for me. I was not in a stable place so the chances of me working on making other fundamental changes to my life were pretty slim.
Time passed and I settled into my new job and started to get comfortable. All the while I’d been seeing the doctor regularly and was basically being told that the changes I was making (yeah, I wasn’t) were not working so they needed to look at drugs instead. That scared me.
There’s always been a very definite line in my head between having diabetes that you controlled with lifestyle changes, and having to take medication. There’s another line, that’s still there, between medication and insulin, but hopefully I’ll never get there because I’m now making changes.
Anyway, back to the story… when they mentioned drugs I got scared, enough for me to start doing something about it. I started making lunch to take to work, and I started walking at lunch. The company I was working for was situated in the middle of some woods, so I would grab my camera and wander around them every other day.But it didn’t work very well so it didn’t last long.
Looking back now it’s obvious why. My lunch was still far too big and my walks were far too short. I was also eating bad things outside of that routine, and lots of it. It was never likely to work because I didn’t really think about what I was doing, I just changed a bit to make myself believe I was “doing all I can”. Daft eh?!
So, inevitably, I ended up on the drugs, and they did bad things to me. I started on Metformin, and before long I was on the maximum recommended daily dose, and they were almost working but not well enough. Why? Well, because I was still eating crap and not doing any exercise. D’oh!
I was on Metformin for over a year and eventually they started damaging my kidneys, so the doc had to switch me to something else. Even at that point I didn’t see the basic problem, so I was switched to Pioglitazone butthat didn’t work anywhere near as well as the Metformin and was likely to cause other problems in the long run. Once more I quickly reached the maximum recommended daily dose, and they still weren’t working. Seeing a pattern yet?
Fast-forward a bit more to about two months ago and another scare. The doc basically told me I was heading for an early grave, which I’d been told before but for some reason it was different this time; it really hit home.
So I started to make real changes, starting with getting an exercise bike. When you weigh 22st you really do have to spend a bit more to get an exercise bike that says it will be suitable. Anyway, so there was that, and I started on a strict routine of fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the evening, or semi-strict I should say – I wasn’t great at sticking to it for the first couple of weeks, but I got better. Soon I had increased up to twenty minutes, then twenty-five and finally thirty. And it was hard, but I did start to feel a bit better.
Why an exercise bike when I could just walk and save myself a small fortune? My ankles. If I try to walk more than a few minutes they really start to ache so walking as exercise was completely out of the question. I used to cycle a lot so as far as I was concerned it was the logical choice, and I knew I’d find excuses to not go out on a real bicycle.
Alongside this I started watching what I was eating a bit better. Primarily I cut out all the frozen food and started buying a lot of fresh fruit and veg, but it was still only a half-arsed effort. I was still eating too much, just more of the right stuff in amongst all the bad stuff. I was still sitting on my arse at work for 8 hours a day, only getting up when I absolutely needed to. I’d still changed very little, but as I say I did start to feel better.
As I continued to exercise regularly on the bike it gradually became easier to walk, and as it got easier I found that I was using the bike less and less and walking more and more. Coincidentally at this time I became friends with someone who walks everywhere and she inspired me to walk a lot more, and I actually did. She also inspired me to look at food in a completely different way.
I combined a lot of what I already knew with that inspiration and actually did something. Well actually it was a combination of things…
- I started walking a lot. I now walk for at least 40 minutes a day. I’ll walk rather than drive if at all practical, which is completely foreign to me.
- I eat when I’m hungry, but only a little. When I do have a big meal I make sure it’s “good”, and I try to make sure I walk soon after it.
- I’ve stopped taking all my medication as an experiment to see where I am without pharmaceutical support.
So this is why I sit here writing this with less than 19st of bulk after less than a couple of months of this regime. For lifestyle changes to work you really need to do it all; jump in with both feet and don’t look back, otherwise it won’t work. Trust me on that!