When I was 27 I weighed 435lb (31-stone / 198kg). Life sucked. When you’re that big you cope with life, you don’t actually live it. On September 14th 2009 everything changed. That was the day my journey began, and since then I’ve lost 200lb+ and rediscovered life.
I’ve been obese for most of my life. I think my childhood was fairly normal, I was never bullied and although I was overweight, it was never really a problem for me. I think playing rugby helped a lot, I wasn’t the “fat geek who didn’t do sports” – I was part of the team and one of the lads.
The first time my weight really hit me was at university. I was surrounded by a new group of people and my social capital was reset. Many did see me as a obese person first. This was the beginning of downward spiral into depression and more weight gain that in many respects wiped out my twenties.
One day in the summer of 2009, I sat down and tried to figure it all out: was this really going to be my life forever? I came across a simple thought experiment: if you had £100M in the bank, a ridiculously huge amount of money, how would you live your day-to-day life? After you get over the superficial “I’d buy lots of expensive stuff” the question is supposed to make you think about how you’d actually spend your time. You have the resources to do anything, but what exactly do you do? For me though, as I wrote my wishlist of things, something became obvious:
- I’d buy a Ferrari! Hang on a sec, I can’t fit into a car like that.
- I’d travel the world! No I won’t, I can’t fit into airplane seats.
- I’d spend my summers sipping mojito’s on the beach… No I won’t, I’d hate it: a big fat man sweating in the heat, afraid of taking his shirt off.
- …and my winters skiing in the mountains! Yea right, they don’t make ski gear for people like me.
As I added things to the list it became clear…
“No matter how much money I have or how great my career is, my life is screwed if I don’t lose weight; there are all these things that I want to do but can’t. Forget the career, money or anything else: my number one priority is to get fit and healthy.“
So I did 🙂
I searched for people who had done a similar thing — men who had lost large amounts of weight. The success stories seemed to be about “lifestyle change” rather than any specific diet (although the general vibe was eat “clean” and be active). So I made a small change to my diet, I stopped eating takeaways. In the first week I lost 5lb, and then the same in the second week. I somehow kept things going and after 3 months I’d lost 40lb and I knew that I could do it. Over the next year my weight loss continued; my diet evolved as I learned more about nutrition, behaviour-change and habits; I started exercising (running), and eventually I hit my goal: after 18 months I had lost 200lb! (91kg / 14+ stone).
As the weight went down I became more active. I started running with the C25k program. At the beginning I’d be puffing after a hundred meters, but 10 weeks later I could run for 30 minutes straight. I kept the 3-runs-per-week up and entered my first 10km race shortly after. In May 2011 I ran my first half-marathon, something I don’t think anyone thought I could do.
Now that I could fit into aeroplanes, it was time to do some traveling! In August 2011 I headed down-under to New Zealand and toured the country in a campervan, following England at the Rugby World Cup. As I made my way around this beautiful country, I kept running. I ran around lakes, through rainforests and mountains, alongs the beaches, the cities and even the bubbling mud-pools of Rotorua. Then at the end of my trip, I ran my first marathon in Auckland. It was brutal, but what a huge achievement for me.
And it turns out they do make snowboard gear for people in my current size… I’m now a snowboarder! No more watching my friends have winter adventures without me. We had some trips together in 2011, then at the beginning of 2012 I flew to Canada and spent a season in Fernie becoming snowboard instructor. As you do!
My life has totally changed.
In just two years I’ve completely turned my life around. I’m healthy, active and happy. I’m so excited about the future.
I’m able to do all the things I wanted to. But most important is the feeling of empowerment I now have: I can do anything and be anyone.