This week’s guest blogger has a truly inspirational story – and I’m so glad he agreed to venture on to my blog to tell it. Davey has turned his life around with a quite phenomenal weight loss – and he’s still going. I stumbled across Davey’s blog by accident a couple of months ago. He’s been documenting his life-changing transformation (more than that, I’ll leave him to explain) and his incredible attitude to walking off his surplus pounds. I commend Davey’s blog to you – he writes with emotional intelligence, insight and honesty. He speaks right to the heart. Without further ado…
DAVEY – LEARNING TO LIVE LIFE
When Julie asked me if I’d like to write a guest post I was extremely flattered – but also suddenly a little overwhelmed. I looked at Geoff and Ritu’s excellent pieces – and realised that in order to be a passing contributor I’d have to explain who I am – which is something that sometimes I’m still honestly not sure about myself.
The reason for this is that I’m still very much in transition as far as weight loss goes – and I still have a long way to go. At my last reckoning I still have lose the weight of a fridge freezer.
However, let me wind the clock back to January 2016 where, in a period of personal crisis surrounding the death of my mother I had received a stark wake up call.
My mother was a committed smoker and a stubborn lady. She’d never even tried to stop – or for that matter wanted to as far as I can remember – and even when she knew it was killing her she carried on regardless. Over several months I sat and watched her tied to oxygen tubes and slowly drowning in her armchair – yet even this failed to dampen her resolve to have a cigarette.
I wasn’t angry with her though – and it was this realisation that proved to be my turning point.
I understood her.
As I sat and watched my mom trying to breathe I realised that I was doing the same to myself with alcohol and food. My drinking had always been generous. I’d over imbibed as long as I can remember – and by the time she passed I was (in part due to the increased stress surrounding this event) regularly consuming three bottles of wine in an evening.
I later worked out that my food and drink intake back then was around 8000 kcal a day.
I did no exercise, had a sedentary lifestyle, oedemas in my feet and lower legs, sleep apnea, continual bouts of cellulitis, high cholesterol, borderline high blood pressure, type two diabetes that was spiralling out of control and I was becoming practically immobile. I only moved between my living room and my office (with my car this was probably less than 100m a day) and everything else in my life required home delivery.
A number of things happened in those moments sitting at her side.
Firstly I decided to give up drinking. This was pretty much immediate. The last one passed my lips on the 26th January 2016.
Secondly I decided to give up my job – which oddly enough worked out quite well because I was unexpectedly made redundant.
Thirdly I needed to get fit and healthy – but this would be a long road. I’d tried exercise very early on after giving up alcohol but it was a massive struggle. I couldn’t walk to the end of my road (around 200m) and back without being in agonising pain. When I did so the first time I tore both calf muscles and ended up with long term plantar fasciitis.
By the time April rolled around I was still alcohol free and my clothes actually felt a little looser. I decided it was time to join some form of group and happened to notice that my old next door neighbour was running a Slimming World meeting nearby. I went along, and listened to the plan and the group talk. Then – when everyone had left the room – I stood on a pair of scales capable of weighing me for the first time in about 8 years.
The consultant quietly read out my weight.
I was 34st 8.5lbs (approx 220kg).
When I arrived at the meeting that day this is roughly how I looked and these were also the clothes that I was wearing. The waistline of my jeans was 66 inches and my shirt was an 8XL.
In order to reach my ‘healthy’ BMI (12st 7lbs) I would need to lose 22st.
I went home and cried. I honestly couldn’t believe how bad things had managed to get and how low I’d sunk.
Although I had a slow start with Slimming World I eventually got my head around the plan and started to embrace their approach to grouping foods as ‘speed’ ‘free’ and ‘syns’ (amongst others).
I – like many others had tried a lot of diets over the years – and in all cases had lost weight, but then almost immediately regained it and more. I’d been to Weight Watchers (twice), followed the Atkins plan (twice), did the Cambridge Diet (twice), the Harcombe diet, Juicing diets, NHS healthy eating plans, Slim-Fast (on this one I lost count of the number of times), and I’d even been to Slimming World before.
Any progress I made was destroyed when I stopped dieting.
Although I can’t claim to have arrived at my current approach immediately I began quite quickly to treat my new membership in a slightly different way to previous attempts. This couldn’t be a diet. It had to be a wholesale lifestyle change. I had to develop a new way of living.
I wanted ‘a new normal‘.
Slowly but surely I began to view all pre-prepared meals and the vast majority of processed food as the enemy. I have either completely stopped eating it or have it very occasionally. I don’t do ‘fakeaways’ (SW friendly versions of takeaways) which are a big thing in my group – because a fake kebab or a fake pizza just reminds me of all the bad things I used to like to eat and maintains my taste for the types of food that got me into trouble in the first place.
I don’t want to crave them in any form any more because if I at some point ‘fall off the wagon’ I want to have re-trained my palette so much that when I falter – I reach for cottage cheese and olives rather than calling for a Dominos Pizza delivery.
For this reason I also don’t do snack food like crisps or chocolate, and I usually (but not exclusively) use my syns within my cooking instead of on treats. If I feel like adding avocado to a salad or a drizzle of olive oil to a vinaigrette then thats where my points for the day normally get used.
As I started losing weight and began to feel more active I started trying to walk around my local park – which has lots of benches, a flat circuit and is exactly a mile long.
The first few times I did this resulted in way more time sitting than standing – and a lap took over an hour. I used to refer to my early attempts as ‘bench pressing’ – because sitting down to recover occupied the lion’s share of the time I spent there.
Gradually however things improved and bit by bit my recovery time (I was continually struggling with injury) got better and better. After a while I was able to walk seven miles in a week – but still couldn’t do a whole mile in one go without resting along the way.
As time went on and I lost more and more weight I found that I sat less, and my recovery time increased. I could do more things in a day and my sleep was improving. I felt better all the time. Before I knew it in the space of a few months I could walk seven miles in a week, then 14, then 30!
It was still hard going – but I had started to really enjoy walking.
Oh – and remember the fridge freezer? Due to all the activity I’d lost the seven stone that this item represented by October.
It wasn’t until I got out and about that I truly appreciated how small my world had become.
I can now walk over 70 miles in a week – and have been plotting my cumulative distance travelled on foot since last April. By the time December had rolled around I’d walked further than the distance from Land’s End to John o Groats (it’s 847 miles or thereabouts according to Wikipedia).
Now, nearing the end of March 2017 I’m probably about a month away from having walked back again and I can do a mile in around 16.5 minutes.
As an added bonus while my exercise levels went up my blood sugar levels went down. Previously I had to take five tablets a day to control my levels, but gradually I’ve managed to bring my HbA1c readings under control. They’ve dropped from 94 mmol/mol (the stratospherically high level I had when I was first diagnosed) to 30 mmol/mol at my last test.
Currently I take no medication and can manage my condition by diet and exercise alone.
My blood pressure has also massively improved. Previously I was on the cusp of it being classified as high but now it’s now 124/70. This is less than the level of a man of a lower age group than me (the 25-34 bracket is expected to be 131/72 and I’m in my mid 40’s.)
I still have the clothes I was wearing in those earlier photos (in case you wondered) but they now look a little different on me. I currently weigh 22st 5lbs and I’ve lost over 12 stone. The waistline of the jeans I’m wearing as I type (which are also under my old clothes in this photo) are a 50 inch waist and are falling down. I’ve ordered some 48’s.
My shirt size is now 4XL and I’m able to get into some larger 3XL tops, depending on the shop.
It’s not been an easy road though, and while I can say that I am now both the fittest and healthiest I have ever been in my entire life there are other emotional and mental hurdles to overcome related to this massive change.
My journey has made me question everything about my life, and examine every decision that I make now and also made in the past.
I’ve made choices in my life for so long with weight and mobility as my primary motivator that I’ve not stopped to think before what I’d do if they were no longer a problem.
The worry that’s always with me though is will I manage to keep off all the weight I’ve lost?
I have to believe I will. I can do anything I want to do. All I have to do is want it enough.
Now I can sit in restaurant booths and normal cinema seats, I can wear a seatbelt in other people’s cars, I can sleep on my back, I can stand for hours rather than minutes, I can wear the upper end of clothing from high street shops, I can put my socks on while I’m standing up, I can get into my bath and have a soak, I can cross my legs while sitting in my armchair, I can use a laptop on my lap, I can walk further and for longer than a lot of my friends.
So what do I do with all of this? Who do I become? Who will I love, what will I do for a living and what will I learn about my new life?
I honestly don’t know – but I’m currently very much enjoying trying to find out. If you want to figure it out with me then pop over to my blog (link) and say hi!