I was always a chunky kid when I was growing up but I always felt I was happy. As happens, being the big sized chap meant that I ended up being put in goal with the statement "you may as well go in net, you fill most of it." Football and cricket with the local kids were as close to exercising as I got. As for running, like others I had to do cross country at school but I would always look to get out of it with some forgotten kit or injury.
It wasn't that I particularly ate rubbish all the time and my parents were always mindful of giving me a healthy balanced diet, just that what they didn't see, didn't hurt them. I had paper rounds which would pay for additional crisps and chocolate and so my weight was in my own hands. I started work and got more income which as I got older meant I could go out into town with friends drinking. My weight with the alcohol increased but I never took any notice even after a medical for one job where the physician described me as morbidly obese.
I was still playing 5 aside and 11 aside football with friends even if the team I was playing for had to get a XXXL shirt for me to wear. Whilst the majority of time I was played in net, I did play some games as an outfield player but regardless of what position you could see the opposition laughing at my size.
At the age of 25 I was devastated as my mum was first diagnosed and then died from pancreatic cancer. I will over time mention the dreaded 'C' word in future blogs as part of my reason for running the London Marathon is to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK.
Apart from a short period of time where I was using a gym 5 times a week, over the next 16 years my weight continued to increase and my time playing any sport ceased. I had been to see my GP to discuss my weight but he just spoke about carbs and protein and I left more confused and continued to put on the pounds. I had not been on scales in many a year and had no idea of what I weighed but I was up to 6XL shirts and a 70" waist. I was struggling to walk 50 metres and had to stop for breath when I did, something had to give!
The straw that broke the camels back happened in August 2012 when travelling to work one morning. I was travelling through Nottingham when a car came speeding through a junction without giving way and smashed into the offside rear quarter of my car causing my car to spin 180 degrees before coming to a stop. The fuzziness in my head cleared just in time to see the driver of the other vehicle speed off, I then realised a had got blood coming down my face from a cut on my forehead. I called the police and paramedics were despatched and I was checked over. Thankfully my vital signs were all good and although the car was to be a write off, I wasn't.
Over the next few days, I gave some serious consideration as to had the accident been more serious what could the implications have been. If they needed to, could the paramedics have got in the car to work on me, could they have easily got me out of the car, would they have known to have sent an ambulance with a tailgate lift in order to get me in? You hear about the 'golden hour' whereby if they can get you to hospital within an hour of the accident your chances of survival increase. The stark realisation to these questions was that they would have struggled. If I was ever going to do anything about my weight, it needed to be now.
I spoke to family and friends and admitted I needed help and I discussed the various weight loss organisations with my step mum Jane. She had done Slimming World previously and said that she would rejoin in order to support me so on 12 September 2012 I took my first steps into a Slimming World group. I was met by the consultant Annette Towle who came bounding over to welcome me and give me the new member talk. She explained about the Slimming World Extra Easy plan and the importance of following the plan. When she asked me about foods I liked I said the usual bloke type things of chips, curries, cooked breakfasts etc and when she explained I could still have all these on Slimming World I felt my bum sink deeper into the chair. I then joined the image therapy session (it was nothing like Marjory Daws of Little Britain) and realised that this too could give me tips on my weight loss journey. People shared recipes and ideas or if something had caused them to gain weight that week, the protectors that could have helped them to avoid the gain.
It was then the time to face the dreaded scales. As mentioned I had no idea what I weighed, Jane had already checked with Annette that her scales could cope with someone who was morbidly obese. In my bravado I had tried to convince myself that the scales would read about 28 stone....I stepped up and the figures started to form 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36......they had to stop at some point surely....they did, the scales read 37 STONE, I was mortified. Annette could see the hurt and disappointment in my face, she just looked up at me standing there and said "Don't worry chap, you can do this."
My Slimming World journey had begun and in my next blog posts I will talk about that journey, the highs, the lows and how my love for exercise began.