Friday, 22 January 2016

Who are you losing the weight for?

For quite a few of us, at some stage in our life someone has encouraged us to try and lose weight be that a few pounds to several stones. 
Also whilst some 'encourage' there are others around us that downright try to bully us into losing weight.  
Sometimes these people are family and friends, other times it will be strangers on the street. 
For me as I was growing up my family would refer to my weight as 'puppy fat' but of course strangers would just see me as "the fat kid". Did that see me lose weight, no it didn't. 
Over the years my family members and friends have hinted to me about losing the weight, from the gentle "are you sure you want to eat that?" to the outright "come on Stu, don't you think it's about time you lost some weight?" I know that they were only saying it to try and encourage me but looking back, I think they could have offered me a million pounds to lose weight but I know that I still wouldn't have lost it successfully (as I wasn't doing it for me). 
From the gentle encouragement of family and friends we go to the other side of the extremity with strangers in the street shouting abuse at me because of my size. Many times when I was overweight I suffered abuse from strangers on the street, from the point and snigger to the shouting verbal abuse. Did they really think that by shouting this abuse at me I'd think 'you know what, that person is right, I'd better lose some weight.' Of course I wouldn't, it would make me feel quite low and worthless and of course I'd go and eat another 5,000 calories of chocolate and crisps just in order to try and cheer myself up. This partly made me a recluse and other than going to work or football I generally stayed in the house surrounded by unhealthy food keeping myself to myself. Whilst I might have portrayed myself as happy in life I can honestly say now that I wasn't. A very good friend I have met through losing weight said once that when she looked at photographs of herself at her biggest, whilst she was smiling she wasn't really happy at all and at looking at the few photographs there are with me at my biggest I can see that I was the same. Very often if there were photographs being taken I would either be the one taking them or the head at the back hiding behind everyone else.
Over the years, the number of times people have encouraged me to try and lose weight were futile. My mind wasn't buying in to it. My weight loss only occurred once my head had decided I wanted to lose weight, I was doing it for me and what I wanted in life not because someone was telling me to. For me, the straw that broke the camels back (or my epiphany) was the stark realisation that the car crash mentioned in my previous post together with my size at that time could have meant that I could have been dead and this really made me think about my future and to me this really was my wake up call.
I decided I wanted to lose my weight to increase my longevity and to enjoy life to the fullest, spending good quality time with family members and potentially find a loving relationship (I had never had a long term relationship whilst I was overweight). Others lose weight for many reasons, wanting to be more active, for medical reasons (to have an operation or to get pregnant), for family, better role model for their children, weddings/family events, confidence and so on. The only thing is that in my experience gives a person has more chance of successfully losing weight is when they are doing it for themselves and the reasons they believe in and that it is right in their mind. 
Whatever your reasons for losing weight and whatever it is that motivates you, I wish you luck. For me I think you need to be sure in your own mind it is what YOU want to do, you are doing it for YOU, make the time for YOU, enjoy YOUR weight loss journey stay focused. YOU will achieve YOUR goals. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Will I have excess skin? Belly's gonna get you!!

On speaking to a lot of people wanting to lose weight, the common concern especially with those wanting to lose large amounts of weight is the fear of excess skin. A lot of you will remember the Reebok advert in the 90's/early 2000's with the beer belly chasing the man down the street and this has stuck with some people.
Belly's gonna get you.
When I was putting the weight on I cannot say that I was conscientious about my skin and the effect my weight may have upon it. Even when I started my weight loss journey I cannot say for sure that I gave much consideration to it or maybe I had subconsciously blocked it out or was just hoping it would shrink with my weight loss. 
When I first started Slimming World I was wearing 70 inch waist trousers and wearing 6 or 7xl shirts and it wasn't as if they were baggy.

70" trousers and 7xl shirt
The first time I ever gave thought to how much skin I might be left with was one evening when I had lost around 13-14 stone. I was laid in bed watching television and Embarrassing Bodies came on. Normally I would not watch this type of programme (I cannot watch the fake injuries in Casualty without feeling ill). However, watch I did and one of the patients was a man who had lost 14 stone cycling to and from work. Sat talking to the doctor he looked fantastic but they asked to remove his shirt so they could see the excess skin. As he did I could feel the blood drain from my face and tears begin to form. As his shirt came off he had roll after roll of excess skin. This guy had done superb in losing his weight but had been left with the skin that was causing him psychological issues. I was in floods of tears, I wanted to lose another 8 stone on top of what this chap had lost, what was I going to look like?? That night I cried myself to sleep. The next day at work I hardly spoke and just concentrated on what I was doing. On the journey home I rang my dad and found myself in tears again as I described what I had seen. I didn't want to continue to lose anymore weight, I wanted to leave my body as it was. I could live with the excess skin I had. My dad listened patiently and when I had finished pouring my heart out he spoke calmly and lovingly saying he would support me with any decision I made but that my body may be different and I may not be left with as much excess skin as the chap on the television. He also encouraged me to speak to others including my sister and Annette my SlimmingWorld consultant and the general opinion was that I was doing great and this should not be a reason for stopping my journey. I was also enjoying the wide variety of food I could eat and still lose weight, was this a valid reason to look to stop?
I found myself scrutinising my body in mirrors, I had been exercising (walking/jogging/swimming) now for a few months and I was now fitting in 54-56 inch waist trousers and 4xl shirts. For the weight I had lost I found myself thinking that my excess skin did not look as bad as I feared, I had a bit of a matrons apron, I could live with that but there was always that niggling doubt that with the additional weight I had to lose would I still end up with the roll after roll?

I never gave any thought to the excess skin
I decided to visit my doctor to see what he could advise. At the appointment I explained to him about the weight I had lost, the amount I was hoping to lose and my fear of excess skin. The doctor listened and said that should I lose the weight and keep it off he would have no hesitation in putting me forward to have the excess skin removed but there was no guarantee that I would be offered the surgery on the NHS. I asked the doctor if there was anything I could do to lessen the amount of excess skin I would have. He gave this some consideration and then said that in view of the weight I had got to that I had stretched the skin in getting to that weight and that as my weight reduced I would be left with excess skin, there might be some elasticity but nothing that would make much difference. Despite being disappointed with the reply from my doctor, there was something in my head that was telling me to continue on my journey and dealing with the issue of the excess skin when I got to my target.
As my weight loss continued and I increased the exercise I was doing I found myself becoming less concerned about the excess skin that I had got. Yes, when I was running in just joggers etc there was the clapping of my thighs but I found that once I had started wearing cycling/compression shorts there was no clapping.
As mentioned in previous blog posts, I reached my target in December 2013 and was now wearing 34-36 inch waist trousers and medium to large tops. I was happy with how my skin was looking, it wasn't perfect, I still had my matrons apron and I had excess skin on my inner thighs but nothing to the extent I had feared. At the time I found my arms were aching after exercise and I made another appointment to see my doctor and whilst waiting for the appointment I spoke to a friend who said that the aching could well be caused by my arms now actually resting in a different position now my body shape had changed. I kept the appointment with the doctors as I wanted a professional opinion and as I walked into the consulting room I could see the doctors jaw drop. He asked me how much weight I had now lost and I explained 22 stone, he asked me how I had lost the weight and I replied Slimming World, "Slimming World" said the doctor as if in disbelief that someone could lose such an amount following a healthy eating plan and I replied "yes doctor, Slimming World, no pills, no magic potions just a healthy balanced eating plan." He then asked me about my excess skin, I removed my top, his jaw appeared to drop again, he said that he could not believe how well I had done with my excess skin. As in the previous appointment he said that if I kept the weight off he would certainly put me forward for the skin removal surgery and I said I would keep considering my options.
As I sit here typing this some two years later, I have kept the weight off, I am still wearing the same size clothing. I still have my matrons apron and the excess skin on my thighs but I am comfortable and can live with these trophies of my weight loss success. Do I think I will ever have skin removal surgery? Never say never but at this time in my life I am very content with what I have got. I am in a very loving relationship and neither one of us is concerned about what excess skin I have. It does not effect me physically or emotionally and I do not find myself hiding away in changing rooms in fear of someone seeing what excess skin I have. I am comfortable laying on I have nothing to be embarrassed about.

Do I think my doctor could have been more supportive? For me, yes I think he could have been. Whilst I appreciate he had got to manage my expectations, I feel he could have said that if I kept up my exercise that there may be some reduction in the amount of the excess skin but he could never give any guarantee of any success. There was a big possibility that I could have left that appointment and given up there and then. I'm so glad I didn't. Being 37 stone might well have seen me to an early grave, no amount of excess skin will.
Is the fear of excess skin a reason to not lose weight? For me it is not but I can appreciate for others it may well be and that all bodies react differently to weight loss and that I could very well have been left with more excess skin than I have. However, without losing the weight I would have never known and I am glad that I continued with my weight loss journey. The guy on television had his surgery and I hope that gave him the closure and satisfaction on his journey.
Not perfect
Belly's gonna get you??? Sorry to disappoint you belly but I'm outrunning you!!

But happy with my excess skin.