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|Start Weight||15st 6lb|
|Current Weight||12st 3lb|
|Weight Lost||3st 3lb|
|Working to Rate of Loss||avg 1.5lb per week|
Now: Matthew at 12st 3lb
Before: Matthew at 15st 6lb
Before:Matthew at 15st 6lb
I'd always felt as though weight affected my life, even from an early age. Being pretty mild mannered I was an easy target for bullies at school which, when they decided to have a go at me, meant I was either called fat or called gay. I guess when you're told something often enough, you just start to believe it. At that sort of age you don't really understand that kids can be cruel just for the sake of it.
As it turned out, I was gay - but it took a lot of soul searching to understand that this was actually a fact of life as opposed to something drummed in to me at school. Unfortunately the scars from being called fat seemed to cut even deeper and affected me to a much greater degree in the long run.
I met my first partner in 1994 and started what turned out to be a 12 year relationship. He was the sort of person that every dieter out there knows and envies - he could eat what he liked and never put a pound on. Highly irritating! He was 6ft tall with a 30" waist and pretty much remains that even now. On the other side of the coin, there was me...
I've always had office jobs which invariably involved being sedentary, sitting behind a desk on a computer all day. When we first moved in together, we didn't have a car, or a lot of money, so there was daily walks (and runs, when late) to and from the bus station and meals were pretty basic. After about 6 months of this, people suddenly started asking me at work if I was ill as I'd lost so much weight and how slim I was looking. Without even realising it, I'd started my 'new life' at the lowest weight I'd ever been as an adult, which was around 11st 10lbs and I still remember to this day that I somehow got in to a pair of 28" jeans... (funny how these things stick with you).
But most tellingly - somewhere in my brain a connection was fused. For the first time I was getting (as I saw it) positive feedback about my weight and the "under 12 stone goal is all that matters" ideology was hardwired in to my consciousness.
I don't exactly know how it happened, maybe it was the old 'contentment' thing. Or it might have been the improved quality of life, allowing for more spare cash, bigger meals and a car. Come to think of it, it may have been discovering the joys of discovering garlic bread for the first time... Whatever it was, slowly but surely, the weight crept up until I was wearing 34" jeans and around 14 stone.
The exact details are a little hazy but I'm going to fast forward to 2001 because that was the next big change for me. I was working for a husband and wife team (just the three of us in a Northern satellite of a London based telecoms company). Being such a small team we were close and it was more of a family feel than a professional feel. I remember my boss (the husband) commenting on me 'getting fat' and (again, it's funny how these things stick) asking me if my bum looked like orange peel in the mirror with all the cellulite I must have.
I resolved there and then that I would prove him wrong and get him to eat his words and from pretty much the following week, I started to swim 3 to 4 times a week at the local pool, swimming 64 lengths each time, which equated to a mile in that particular sized pool. On top of that, I had jacket potatoes a few times a week for lunch or low calorie meals, such as Boots Shapers.
A friend who was going to a local gym then suggested I could join her membership so that we could both enjoy a cheaper price. They had a pool at this gym and I would actually be saving money, based on what I'd been paying at the local baths.
So I joined up and by the end of that year, I'd got my weight back down to the 12 stone range and my boss actually admitted that he'd never seen me look so good. This just reinforced the belief I'd adopted that I was a "better person" when slimmer - and the slimmer, the better.
Looking back this was what was to become a regular cycle with me - where anyone commenting negatively was immediately believed. I couldn't wait to accept the negative comments. Compliments would bounce off me like water off a duck's back, on the other hand. Only when I really drove my weight as low as I possibly could would I feel good about myself.
No surprise at all then that the weight came back with a vengeance and all the hard work from the previous year was wiped out in 6 months.
Again, things get hazy around now (funny how I can never remember my fat times but I look back with fond memories of the thin times).
So the next milestone is seeing a picture of myself after coming back from Malta for our 10 Year Anniversary in December 2004. I was with my friend Angela who'd begun losing a lot of weight on WeightWatchers in preparation for her wedding the following year (this is the 'before' picture - which I now keep on my mobile phone under the filename 'Inspiration').
I couldn't believe how fat I was looking. My skin was terrible from all the junk I was eating, my hair was oily - I just felt like such a mess. I got on the scales and was mortified to be 15st 6lbs. It was suddenly less of a mystery why I'd had to go and buy 36" jeans - a huge 8" up from that mystical 28" pair I'd squeezed in to as a teenager.
It was around this time that You Are What You Eat became popular on the TV. I really bought in to the principal behind Gilian McKeith's regime (although if you truly are what you eat, I presume she's eaten a half dead hamster at some point in her life, she's hardly the pinacle vision of health), but I digress.
I knew I couldn't live on beans and nuts but I rejoined the gym (I'd started yet another new job well away from food at this point) and decided to try this 'diet of plenty'. I would load my plate up with healthy foods - and most importantly - I wouldn't be afraid of fat. I was told at the gym that a breakdown of 60% carb, 30% fat and 10% protein should be my goal and that fat isn't a bad thing - it just has to be had in moderation. Sound familiar?? I'll come back to that though.
I also decided to try and stop eating things with chemicals in that I couldn't pronounce and generally eat fresh food as often as possible. I bought a steamer and started to log my weight properly for the first time. I did a spreadsheet to log everything but decided to weigh myself just once a month - I think because on YAWYE they had to do the regime for 4 or 6 weeks before their first weigh-in.
The combination of exercise and healthier eating worked wonders and I drove my weight down again to around 12 and a half stone. It was around this time that I started to really gel with a few key people at work who remain my closest friends to this day and my confidence grew and grew. But pyschologically, I linked the new friendships with the new weight, as though they were dependent on each other... Also, a couple of my closest friends, it transpired, had had their own weight battles, having both lost over 6 stone each. I felt in good company here, people who understood.
But as we all know from Bridget Jones, when one part of your life comes together - another bit falls apart - and in February of 2006, my relationship came to an end after 12 years. The ensuing stress drove my weight to the 'Holy Grail' of 12 stone - and I still have a snap of it on my phone even now. It was the one good thing that came out of that pretty miserable time of my life.
My weight did start to creep up throughout 2007, so that by the time of the Christmas Do in December 2007, I was 13st 10lb (see picture). When I saw the picture I was reminded, horribly, of my 'Inspiration' picture and thought "wait a flamin' minute, you promised yourself you wouldn't do this again, no more yo yoing!!".
So from 1st Jan 2008 onwards I was following Weight Watchers, doing it at home with all the books and using their online site. My weight started to drop but it was becoming inconsistent with results. I didn't understand how I could eat the same points at 13st 10lbs as I could at 13st 1lb - something wasn't adding up. I also didn't like how they had to 'round up and down' with points, owing to their minimum denomination being 0.5 points.
To be fair, my weight did drop overall to just under 13st, so I can see why people stick with it... but at the time I was going swimming again (as it's my best sport skill) yet the rewards on Weightwatchers were pitiful. There was next to no incentive. In fact, as soon as I became "12 stone something" I think half an hour's swimming was earning me just half a point back - plus they capped how many exercise points could be spent on extra food. My weight just completely stuck and wouldn't shift no matter what I tried. I now realise that Weightwatchers is, in effect, calorie control - but it's just not precise enough because they're too concerned with slapping their logo on a product and sticking 10% on the RRP for the privilege.
Around June of this year, I was browsing the internet looking for an accurate idea of how many calories I could eat in a day - and found myself on WLR's website. I signed up for the 24 hour trial to have a little play and I really liked what I found. Even on WeightWatchers I would still keep my own spreadsheet on the go with charts and what-not and having all of this done for me with WLR really appealed.
I invested the time to build in my favourite foods, favourite meals etc. I even made 'recipes' to cover my cups of coffee and tea, so that I knew I was being 100% accurate. A little time invested at the beginning made all the difference in the long term and I firmly believe that with WLR you get out what you put in. You have to be prepared to put in the extra effort to log absolutely everything - but it comes with the most wonderful reward and that's freedom from guilt.
For the first time ever, I could eat *anything* I wanted to, without feeling guilty. And having been frustrated trying to shop on Weightwatchers, considering both calories and saturated fat, shopping suddenly became an absolute breeze. I would generally plan my 'core' bits (coffees/teas/breakfast/squash) each day for the whole week using the Food Plan (which makes it really easy) which were staples of every day and then plan my weekly main meals out too. I found myself eating the exact same meals as my partner whereas before I always had to prepare my own (which always looked awful in comparison).
Using the Calories History Report, I could over-spend on calories at the weekend knowing in advance which day of the week I was going to be able to claw it back on - and it all suddenly became so easy.
On top of that, exercise was rewarded exactly as it should be - and suddenly the connection between food and exercise was solidified. In effect, I was doing what I'd been doing on You Are What You Eat but in a broader sense. I didn't have to eat mung beans - I could eat chocolate if I wanted to (and I often want to) but food has become less of a source of comfort and more a source of energy now.
And you know the bit I really love? That for the first time EVER in my adult life - I don't care about weight gain. I went away on holiday this year knowing full well that if I gained weight - I had a cast iron certain way of shifting any gain as soon as I got back (and that's exactly what happened).
Just a fortnight or so ago, I posted on the forums that I was having a fat day. I asked if anyone else ever looked in the mirror and saw nothing but flab. I felt like I should be having salt water thrown on me as I was rolled back towards the sea before I died on the beach. No matter how low I could get my weight, I never seemed to see it in the mirror. Unless, of course, I got on the scales and had lost some weight, in which case I'd look again and suddenly not feel so fat (amazing that, isn't it...).
I'd walk around the shops at lunch time and having ignored 856 people, spot one particularly good looking guy and think "I wish I looked like that but I don't because I'm really fat/ugly/short/pale/blah blah blah".
I'd convince myself that because I *could* be (according to all the charts and what not) as low as 10 stone something, that all I'd been working towards was just the start of the real battle to come - to get down to about 11 stone. This was in spite of friends and family saying I was slim enough and that I'd look really poorly if I went that low. But oh no - I knew best - because back when I was 18 I'd even squeezed in to size 28's...
I've always had 12 stone as my first 'goal', which I've only achieved in the last, what, 11 years, by being clinically depressed during a breakup of a relationship - yet I considered it a realistic goal and so nothing else that I achieved really matters.
Yet I was looking through some old pictures on the PC two days ago... and I found a set from the first few weeks of meeting my partner's family... and it struck me that I actually look slimmer (and healthier) now, than I did then. Yet I was lighter back then - and was convinced that lighter meant better...
It played on my mind all night and almost overnight, it's like a kind of veil has been lifted and for the first time ever I'm actually happy with myself :-)
I've finally realised what I HAVE, not what I haven't. I'm NOT 15st 6lbs any more. I wear medium tops and shirts and sometimes, depending on the fit and the cut - I wear small. I wear 32" jeans and sometimes need a small belt rather than a medium one. These are NOT the things of a 'fat guy' that I've told myself I am for all these years.
So I've now decided that my new MAX goal weight is 12st 3lbs - because it's a weight I can comfortably maintain, it's a weight within my 'healthy range.’ It means I'll be able to wear all the same clothes I can now and I have enough bone structure showing in my face to make a nice facial picture, which is generally what really matters for the majority of pictures that people take.
I feel that the yo-yo cycle I've been going through is finally broken because for the first time ever, I'm truly satisfied with the weight I am. I don't have to try to gear up for the next push in to unrealistic territory just to snap back with such speed that I'm heavier than ever. It feels so good and such a weight has been lifted :-)
And I can only do this thanks to WLR who've finally given me a weight loss tool that I not only trust but I 100% believe in. I plan to switch to maintenance and then keep an eye on my weight from then on and I've finally given up this useless 'dream' of being 12st and below.
I've wasted so many years wanting to be something I'm not instead of enjoying who I am and being happy about it.
If I could give any one else struggling with their weight any tips, it would be this:
Remember that each of us are different and there are many different ways of measuring success and wellbeing, other than a number or a dial on a set of scales. Whatever your 'healthy weight range' is - you don't have to ignore the upper part of it and focus on the middle or bottom - ANYWHERE in that range is healthy. The reason it's a range in the first place is to account for the fact that we're all different.
And when you're walking around town comparing yourself to all and sundry - compare yourself to EVERYONE and don't just look at that 1 in a 100 who might have an aspect you admire (and then convince yourself that everyone out there looks better than you do).
Life is tough enough without being your own worst enemy. It's a cliché but you really do only get one shot at this life and one wonderful body to enjoy it through - so learn to love it as soon as you can :-)
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* Note: The success stories published on Weight Loss Resources are written by WLR members, past and present, telling their own stories in their own words. As you will see if you read more than one or two of them, everyone's story is different and they have reached their success from a variety of starting points and lost weight at varying rates. Individual results may vary.
Enter your details to calculate your ideal weight range, and discover how soon you could reach it!