Over the past 20 or so years (maybe longer) it seems I have unconsciously or subconsciously embarked on a mission to destroy my body. I suppose it all started when I was young, as these things tend to do. However, as a teenager and into my early 20's I had a rapid metabolism and was one of those people that other people refer to as having "hollow legs", as I could put away remarkable amounts of food with no effect on my bodyweight. At Sunday dinners I would always be like, "You don't want that last roast potato? Give it here then." My family referred to me as the Human Dustbin.
Then one day in my mid-twenties I saw a picture taken of myself at my first wife's birthday party in 1991, and thought "Ooh. Those jeans look awfully tight on me."
I didn't pay much attention to it and, after moving to the USA with all the delights it has to offer (massive portions, Mexican food, IHOP, brownies, nachos, fast food aplenty) I found myself at the end of my first marriage at age 36 in size 36 trousers. Now, 36 may not seem like a bad size to you, but I'd started out at a 28. When I had gotten married in 1990 I was 6 ft tall and 10 stone (140lbs). I was skinny, and it looked good on me. Being skinny was nice. I also had hair, but that's another story.
So I ate for comfort. To beat stress, I would eat, and drink beer. How stressed was I?
Well, let's put it this way. In order to get divorced in Snohomish County, WA, in 1999, I was required to attend a seminar/workshop thing because I had a child. I can't remember too much of the seminar now (it was totally boring) save for the part where they gave each of us a sheet of paper with a list of all sorts of different life events and a point score for each one.
The idea was that if you had had any of the things listed happen to you within the last couple years, you added that into your points total. There were things like moving house, relationship ending, relationship beginning, learning to drive, pregnancy, stuff like that.
Then on the bottom of the sheet was a table where you could see how stressed you were by the number of points you'd accrued.
If you were over 300 points you were said to be 'extremely stressed'. I had managed to tally up an insane 430 points. And the weird thing was, I didn't feel like I was stressed at all. I figured it was just like one of those Cosmo quizzes which always turn out to be utter bullcrap.
But I guess I was, because almost as soon as I was divorced and remarried, a child came along, and then another, and I'd moved from Everett, WA to Gainesville, GA, something I didn't want to do really in my heart of hearts. A helluva distance, to a state I didn't much care for, just because we thought it would be cheaper to live there, nearer my new wife's family.
Georgia, the home of... cooking everything in butter and grease, apparently. After a few years of living there I was a 50 inch waisted butterball and I was miserable. My second marriage wasn't working out and... blah blah blah.
So I found myself back home in the UK in 2010, got myself back down to a 40-inch waist and things were looking hopeful. However, it is easy to just get a takeaway or bung some oven chips and fish fingers in the oven rather than cooking proper food, plus I still think I can eat like "The Human Dustbin". Thus, my waist is now back at a 44.
So now my body has started let me down rather spectacularly.
While I was in Georgia I was told by my doctor that I was borderline diabetic. I also had really bad fluid retention in my legs, which led to gout-like pains in my feet and ankles. He gave me some pills for that (can't remember which) and it seemed to work, and I made somewhat of an effort to eat better, which is why I got down to a 44 by the time I got back to the UK.
Well, folks, the water retention and skin discolouration which comes with it is back, as well as the gout-like pains in the feet and ankles, coupled with the knee pains which come from hauling around this large bulk I call my body. Being asthmatic as well, it's not difficult for just a small amount of effort to get me out of breath. Something's got to change.
Which is why I have signed up for a new programme online called LBD (Lifestyle Beats Diet). If you go to http://www.changeinseconds.com/ you can read all about it.
It's a holistic approach to weight loss in that it's not about calorie-counting or eating less of this or more of that or hitting the gym every day, it's about Clean Eating (http://www.changeinseconds.com/what-is-clean-eating/).
There was one thing I read on their site that sold it to me. It was this sage piece of advice: If you're feeling hungry, then ask yourself - would I eat an apple right now? If the answer's no, then you're not hungry, you're probably just bored.
Once you sign up, there is a game involved. You keep an online journal of your food habits and score points for eaing right and get points deducted for eating wrong. Not just food though - you get points for your mindset, how many hours you sleep, the amount you exercise etc. and keep either an online waist measurement record or track your progress through the use of selfies. After the site goes live on Feb 19th, there will be challenges, and a community wall where we can all track each other's progress, as well as a body tracker. There are also pages and pages of resources to help, a grocery list of best items to eat and oodles of healthy recipes which I am determined to try.
So, as I sit here with my pear in one hand, bottle of water in another, wish me luck, folks.
P.S. I'm also signed up to go chocolate-free for a month this March in order to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation and fund valuable research into coronary heart disease, which is currently the UK's single biggest killer. My fundraising page is at https://www.justgiving.com/jeff2016/ -please donate- and I haven't actually had any chocolate since Sunday night when I ate a bar of raw organic chocolate from http://www.consciouschocolate.com/ which was jolly good and quite unlike any chocolate I've ever had!