The signs had been there for years. I mumbled that Gap was stinting on their shirt fabric. I had to hold my breath to bend over and tie my shoes whilst sitting on my bed. And I’d straighten up puffing – from tying my shoes. My right knee didn’t help – but I’d had my arthoscopy on it in March, so that excuse was losing credence. The final straw was attending Amelia’s wedding near Toronto in June and not being able to fit into any of my dress shirts and wear my Paisley cuff-links. The “bay window” had to go.
I decided to look at the nearest gym, some ten minutes walk away. It’s seen better days but it’s close. They were offering reduced rates for off-peak members and a free MOT. I took their test on the 6th of July. The report came back and elliptically informed me that I was not in the upper 90% of fitness for men my age. Yes, read that again. According to the Body Mass Index I wasn’t just overweight, I was obese at 15 stone 8 pounds. I should be under 12 stone 7 (at 14 pounds or 6.35 kilograms to a stone). But the weight was just the easy measurement. I was out of breath walking for five minutes at a couple of miles per hour. I was given a programme to follow, which I kind of understood – but all the equipment was daunting – I didn’t know if I was doing anything correctly on my own. And, just to top it off, my gym is next door to London Scottish Rugby Club – it’s their local gym. Imagine how intimidated I was setting a weight machine for 21 kilos, where I struggled, when the lock forward before me had been doing 124. I was floundering after a couple of sessions. A few years back I’d joined a gym near my work – and, in a year, never went even the once. I could see myself giving up within weeks.
Meanwhile, Kate, as is her wont, had gone for it – no half measures. She upended her diet. She acquired a Personal Trainer. And she was working out six days a week – after her PT told her to take a day off to recover. Based on her experience I took on a PT, once a week. It’s not cheap but it is working.
Heather has helped too. She wanted to lose a few pounds herself, so our diet has changed. She’s one for lower fat everything. I’m more for the nicest taste, but a lot less of it. So, we’ve compromised. We use real bufala mozzarella, the low-fat stuff is tasteless. We used to use 100 grams of pasta per person. Now we use 60. We eat one ribeye steak between us instead of one each. On the other hand, the low-fat yoghurt is palatable. Her good news is that she has pretty well reached her weight target.
My good news is that I was able to wear my dress shirt to Ben’s wedding at the end of September. The bay window isn’t gone – but is much reduced. I’m almost half-way to my weight target. I’m running, albeit slowly – but, heck, I was out of breath walking slowly three months ago. The gym is no longer ten minutes walk away, more like seven. I’m now in the top third for fitness in men my age. I was 15 and a half stone in July. I’m just over 14 stone now. If I stay on plan I’ll be just over 13 stone by Christmas and at my appropriate weight, 12 stone and change, in April. Ok, the plan is a bit simplistic, lose a pound a week, knowing full well the early pounds are easier to lose than the later ones. But, still, at least I know I have months, not weeks or years, in front of me. And, actually, it’s not the weight any more, it’s the body shape and fitness that are now driving me – the weight loss has become a useful side effect, not the goal per se. I will certainly need the upper body strength if I have to carry an injured 70 kilogram dog across Richmond Park!
I have two challenges: clothing and boredom. I’ve dropped a trouser size – I’m wearing ones from the ’90s, before I quit smoking. But, if I stay the course, I’m likely to drop one or even two more sizes. I guess I’ll start punching holes in my belts. Boredom may be my real enemy. Five sprint intervals on a treadmill, five more on a rowing machine, five repeats of 12 lifts on five different weight machines, 50 leg lifts, stretching – three times a week. Dull enough that any disruption might give me the excuse not to go back to it. I’m going to need to take up a sport to make life interesting. My gym has a few squash courts. Maybe I can find an interesting way to injure myself through learning a new game.
Birthday update – 13 stone 11 pounds, down from 15 8. In July I couldn’t jog 50 yards and in November I get off the treadmill, jogging, after 15 minutes because it is boring. And my stomach is taking shape (yes, yes, I know, round is a shape). There’s a hint of a six-pack forming. And I’m now in the upper 10% for fitness for my age and gender. Mine’s a pint, thank you.