I'm a year older than I was a few weeks ago, and I'm starting to notice it more.
But what I didn't notice was my ballooning weight. Sure, you'd think that by calling myself thefathippy I'd have some kind of inclination that I was fat, but no. My kids gave me the nickname when I was younger, skinnier, and had long hair and a beard. In fact, it was an insult they stole from The Young Ones tv show, and I just ran with it.
Anyway, getting fatter just kept happening. Partly a natural consequence of getting older, having a sedentary job, and feeling generally depressed and demotivated. People laugh, but food, especially sugary or chocolatey food, really is comforting. Besides, I was still skinnier than many of my colleagues who were close in age, even if the young fellas weren't carrying quite as much. I looked around and decided I was OK, a bit of pud around the middle, but so what?
Last year I took part in a "Fit and Healthy" campaign for ...ummm... more mature staff at my work. For a month, we had to do some balance exercises, eat more veges, get some sun, and do a minimum of 30 minutes exercise a day - walking was fine. We also had to record our efforts and report back at the end of the month. I took part because I knew my weight was creeping up, and I hoped that starting something might reignite my drive and motivation to go riding. Don't get me wrong, I still loved going for a ride when I went, but most of the time the thought of having to go for a ride was nowhere near as attractive as kicking back on the lounge with my Kindle and some junk food. My rides all start with the hill to everywhere, and hills are hard. I hated that I felt like that, which demotivated me even more.
But it worked. I did increase my riding. Only a bit, but nonetheless. After the program finished they offered to sign me up for the NSW government's (free) Get Healthy line. You might have seen the ads which used a fat phone. They rang me, and I ignored the message. "Yeah, whatever". They kept at me, and finally got me started on the program. A pleasant young woman rang me at home and asked me some questions to see where I was at, asked my weight (I was glad that I'd managed to knock a couple of kilos off during the first program, and could answer honestly, if a little shamefacedly), and then asked my weight measurement. Here I was proud - "I've just gone down a size in jeans, from 34" to 36"" "yes, but what's your actual waist measurement" the counsellor persisted. She waited on line while I rummaged around for a tape measure, and told me where to position the tape. I looked down and gasped, before sitting on the bed in shock. Much bigger than my jeans, and much bigger than my old jeans. At this point I don't think I'm ready to admit how big that number was.
My counsellor wasn't happy either - not with me, but she knew that measurement was bad, and in fact put me on the borderline for diabetic risk and obesity. My BMI was just under obese. My waistline made me eligible for more counselling calls than normal because of the diabetic risk. That "bit of pud" was a whole lot more serious than I thought. Jeebus. I felt sick and ashamed. How had I let myself get to this disgusting state, and not admitted it? It's not like I couldn't see it.
I've always carried a little around my stomach. Even in my 20s when I was running 15 km a day and a regular gym goer, and weighed a mere 68 kg (under 11 stone). Some paunch has always been normal. I was overweight as a kid, as was the rest of my family not grossly, but still overweight. Normal. So gradual increases could always be rationalised away with "I've always been like this". We also changed from stones and pounds as a measure of weight to kilograms, and when I do some conversions now, it's clear that the conversions in my head were way under real conversions. I think in kg now, but what I think think is an acceptable number is much higher than it should be, and if I convert back to stones, that same weight is obviously too much.
So what was I going to do? The counsellor motivated me to get going, and not worry about setbacks and failures so much, and not to seek comfort in food when I do have a setback (a definite failing of mine). She helped me set weight and waist measurement goals, and made those goals meaningful, not just easily achievable like my first suggestions. So it wasn't going to be easy, but successful results should be obvious to everyone. we'll see.
Since then, I've been called back probably five times, and each time I'm asked about my eating, drinking, and exercise, praised for my achievements, counselled over setbacks, and most importantly, positively encouraged.
It's working. Despite Christmas and the usual overeating and drinking, I've lost weight. Despite a major mountain bike crash putting a serious dent in the riding I was doing, I'm still riding more than I was last year. Despite a persistent cold and sore ribs (probably from the crash), I'm still motivated to achieve my goals, although motivation to go for a ride has fallen, and I need to keep my grab bag of excuses locked away. I'm eating less sugar, less chocolate, and more vegetables/salads. I'm having smaller portions. I haven't bought chocolate this year, and I haven't eaten all the chocolate I've had in one go. another big change!
So, I'm a third of the way to my weight loss goal, and am starting to tell people about my attempt. My waist loss isn't as good, but I can see there's less there. Will we see thefathippy-lite? I hope so. Riding's more fun when you weigh a bit less, and hills aren't nearly as daunting. I've even ridden some hills that I haven't been able to ride in years. If, no, WHEN I hit my goal, I'll set a new one, and who knows, I might even see those weights from 30 years ago again.