For those of you who haven’t seen the article I had published in What Mountain Bike I have reproduced it below accompanied by Jo Burt’s fabulous illustration.
The italicised part of the article is an extra bit that Matt the editor asked for and then decided not to use. But I’ve whacked it in here for you. The whole piece is put on here with Matt’s permission. You can get What Mountain Bike (The best MTB mag in my humble opinion) at your local newsagent or here.
A toughie to write this one as it addresses some very hard questions that need answers.
It all started on the back of reading this blog by Gary Brennan. http://theamazing39stonecyclist.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/friday-night-food/ He is talking about how it used to be for him and food before he lost an almost unbelievable 25 stones via the bike.
That struck a few very emotional chords with me; I used to do a very similar thing myself, only not consuming sweets, milk and crisps. Beer (real ale) and curry were my fixes of choice. Especially after a good day out at the rugby with my mates, or sat at home after a particularly bad day at work. Cooking? After my day at work? In your dreams! The beer thing is faintly worrying though, I still like a pint or 3 at the end of the week. And I do find myself craving a pint at various points in the week. Am I an alcoholic I wonder? That’s something to ponder moving forwards. I have the curry addiction under control though.
That was mine and Gary’s abnormal relationship with food in the past but before we get to the nitty gritty of this piece and what I have to say, I must point out that I consider Gary a friend and someone who was instrumental in setting me on my way back to health and fitness back in 2009.
Take a look at the comments section of that very soul searching piece by Gary. A guy has dived in, in an unnecessarily argumentative manner in my view (but that’s the internet for you) to make the point that Gary has nothing to be proud of by losing 25 stones as he shouldn’t have got like that in the first place.
Now here’s the shocker, I agree totally with him. In fact I’ve always thought that, not about Gary in particular, but about me. I got to 22st 4Ibs with a background of the military, Mountain Biking and Rugby. I was a total active nut case. How the clucking bell did I let myself get to a state of morbid obesity? The fact that I’ve lost 7 and a half stones is nothing to be proud of, I’m ashamed I’ve had to lose it and still be in a position where I need to lose more.
But here’s the thing, 20 20 hindsight is a bloody handy thing to have. If I could have my time again knowing what I know now of course I’d do things differently, but I am where I am so deal with it fatso!
The argumentative chap in Gaz’s blog is wrong on couple of points though, it is frighteningly easy to put weight on and astoundingly difficult to get it off. If it is hard to get fat and easy to get thin, then you wouldn’t be seeing an epidemic of obesity hitting the Western World in general.
There’s a question that I asked on one of my first ever weight loss blogs over at www.massivemtber.co.uk the question was why did I get like it? Obviously by sitting on my arse and filling my face with crap! But why did I do that? I knew at an intellectual level that it wasn’t such a great idea and I could see myself getting fatter and ever more less fit and ill so again, why?
I have my own theory that it is a form of mental illness, I mean a sane person doesn’t knowingly self-harm do they? Lethargy and gluttony is self-harm no matter how much you package it in as many nudge nudge wink wink fat bastard jokes as you like.
This leads naturally to the murky, self-serving and dishonest world of politics for a grand scale solution.
I can very smugly take a bit of the moral high ground here, I never had any help from the medical profession or spent any of the NHS’s shrinking budget on getting myself better, nor has Gary, we did it the good old fashioned hard way.
But what about those who cannot help themselves? Do we continue spending money to treat the illnesses obesity causes or spend money on gastric band operations? I’m instinctively against the whole idea of gastric bands as it isn’t getting to the root cause of the issue, it’s just forcing people to eat less, but I’m not a medical professional so what do I know?
I’ll be totally honest here, and I’m not fence sitting, I don’t know what if anything the powers that be should be doing. My instinct is education at childhood to prepare kids to keep active and eat right, maybe even compulsory cooking lessons to prove that eating a balanced healthy diet with fresh produce isn’t expensive or a time consuming thing to do.
All I know is I’m not proud of myself, I’m ashamed of myself in fact and I regret deeply the need to be doing what I’m doing now.
Oh and finally, just for clarity, I’m not out for sympathy, I never have been. This is my fault and only I can put it right.