I used to be a bit of a bloater.
I'm pretty tall and my frame used to hide it quite well, but if I hadn't yet eaten all of the pies, it was only a matter of time... I think at my peak I probably weighed in excess of 18 stone (that's 115 kg).
I'd always done loads and loads of exercise when I was at school, and I suppose the weight gain was the result of going to university, drastically cutting back on the exercise and starting to drink loads of beer. I probably wasn't eating all that much less than I had when I was at school, but I was an awful lot less active. I never weighed myself, so I don't think I ever really noticed. Over the next couple of years, the exercise stopped almost completely, and I got heavier.
I have a photograph in my wallet from about 1998. It is a passport photo and I am wearing a suit, and the most bored looking expression I think I have ever seen. The expression is not the reason I've kept this (or the rubbish glasses, or the fact that I still had some hair); I've kept it because my face looks so fat. I am recognisable as me, but generally people who didn't know me then are amazed when they see it. I hate the photo, but I have kept it.
The weight came off me over the course of the next 5 years or so. It was a gradual process, and was never the result of any kind of dieting. In the same way that I had never really noticed the weight going on, I didn't really notice it coming off either. I came out of a long-term relationship and changed my eating habits (more soup, fewer heavy evening meals). I began to take more exercise, mostly because I always enjoyed it and because I wanted to get fit. I ran, I joined a gym, I began to play 5-a-side football again. I had to change my wardrobe, twice, because all my trousers were falling off my hips, and I was being drowned by my shirts.
The final coup-de-grace was delivered in about 2001, when a bout of campylobacter food poisoning saw me lose 5kg inside a week, and about 10kg in all, weight I have never put back on. People started to call me skinny. I had coathanger shoulders that my t-shirts just hung down off, and these puny little arms. I was now down to about 88kg (about 13st 10lb).
I have never, ever seen myself as thin. As a kid I was always bigger than everyone I knew and always weighed more. Mostly this was because I was a good foot taller than everyone else, but that doesn't seem to matter when you are comparing weight. No one factors that in. We didn't know what a BMI calculation was (did anyone in 1987?). Now, when someone calls me skinny, I cannot believe they are talking about me. When C. tells me that I am wasting away, that I am all skin and bone and have lost all my smoochy bits, there's a part of me that is thrilled. I still feel fat. I still feel guilty if I think I have eaten too much, or if I haven't taken any exercise. It's as if there is still a fat person inside me just waiting for the opportunity to get out.
Later on this year, I will be competing in an Olympic distance triathlon - 1500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run. I'm probably in better physical shape now than I have ever been.
I have something of an obsessive personality. I reckon I'm also pretty tenacious. That's why, once I had decided that I was going to join Team Ultimate Olympian for the London Triathlon in August, I was going to do things properly. There was no way that I was going to just turn up and wander my way around the course. I don't need to set any records; I just need to be fit enough to feel that am I able to do myself justice.
That's one reason why I have sorted myself out with a training program (thanks to John for the link). It's pretty scary, and gets more scary as I get into it and as time goes on. With 20 weeks to go, I already have to do 5 sessions this week:
- 26 minute swim & 53 minute cycle
- 44 minute swim
- 26 minute run
- 44 minute run
- 88-something minute bike ride
There's actually a little more than 20 weeks to go, and I haven't yet sorted out my bike, so I'm sort of mixing and matching. Today I was absolutely determined to go to the gym and do about an hour or so of cardio-vascular exercise. When I finally left work at about 8pm this evening, I didn't have enough time to get to the gym before it closed. So did I just shrug, go home, pour myself a beer and watch the football?
I went home, got my running kit on and popped out for a 30 minute run. It was so cold that the sweat frosted up on my woolly hat.
I just couldn't sit at home and do nothing. Having told myself that I would do something, I would have felt fat and lazy. I would have been able to feel that weight coming back on.
I am 30 years old (31 on 7th March, but that's not until next week!)
I am 6 foot 5 inches tall (about 1.98m).
I weigh 88kg (13st 10lb / 194lb).
My body fat percentage is 11% (pretty low) and if I was to lie on a bed and do nothing all day, I would apparently need 2,300 calories just to stay alive - not even to move... just to maintain my basic functions like heart/breathing etc.
I can't believe how much my body has changed.
I also can't believe I have to do a 44 minute swim tomorrow night.