“Waaaah! I’m fat! I’m faaaaat!!”
Now, I know what you’ve just pictured in your mind. You’ve pictured me as one of those chubby bald men who look like a baby, waving his arms in the air, and tears rolling down his pudgy cheeks.
Trouble is, this is what I’ve become, albeit not bald. I am, however, fat.
As is traditional in the Phnut household, we have binged over Christmas, and now – bloated, sweating, and weary – we are doing the annual diet. Except this year, things are different for the following reasons:
- I recently became 40 years old. This is more of a psychological shift than a physical one – the individual cells and organs in my body aren’t thinking “I’ve been around for 40 years exactly! Let’s start malfunctioning and causing problems!” – but it is true that one’s forties are more significant for health than the thirties. This was rammed home quite hard just two weeks ago, when a colleague who I rather like despite his rampant, frothing-at-the-mouth Conservative views, had a serious heart attack (probably as a result of getting involved in vicious online spats with Jeremy Corbyn sympathisers). If you’re reading this G, I hope you get well soon. And you probably shouldn’t troll lefties for a bit.
- I am now heavier than I ever have been in my entire life. I have put on an entire stone in weight in just six months because I took my eye off the ball – the ball being roughly what my body shape is. And it’s not good.
There is a stereotypical Dad in the media, and it’s been around a lot longer than Homer Simpson. The balding, angry, stupid, fat Dad. I am all of those things (except balding. I really need you to know I am not balding. I have a luscious head of hair). I am certainly angry, no doubt. And I’m really quite stupid. But now I have to admit I’m officially obese. Have been for some time, if I’m honest. According to all the BMI charts, doctors, and fitness apps, I am clinically obese. It’s jolly nice to have chums and colleagues who say “Nonsense! You don’t look obese at all!”, but the sad truth is I bloody well am. The real problem is, I’m starting to get side-effects of obesity that nobody tells you about.
It’s well known that when you are obese you are likely to become chubby, wheezy, unfit, waddling, rosy-cheeked, a life insurance risk, prone to heart attacks, a type-2 diabetic with high blood pressure, and a comic relief in films. But did you also know about the sleep apnoea, where your body decides to stop breathing while you’re asleep, and you awake gasping for air? What about the late-night acid reflux, where your stomach decides to gush hot, stinging acid into your mouth, thus causing you to wake up spluttering and coughing, with a burning throat? How about the bad back, or the painful knees? The way your belt buckle slices into the excess flab of your stomach, causing a very unpretty patch of weeping-sore skin? The fact that very few clothes manufacturers do sizes above XXXL, and that skinny clothes-shop assistants can be patronising arseholes? The fact that I can get sweaty from the drop of a hat? Or rather, from picking the hat up (I’m not joking by the way, I’ve actually done this as a test. I’ve dropped a hat on the floor and picked it up, and by the time I creaked back into a standing position, I was a bit clammy. Urgh).
And here is what’s annoying. As a family, we don’t eat unhealthily. Sarah and I rarely eat processed food (apart from canned beans and chopped tomatoes for sauces), and never touch ready-meals. About 99% of our food is made using fresh ingredients, and sauces made from scratch and never out of a jar. I haven’t drunk alcohol since 2005, nor smoked since 2008. But here I am, chubby and waddly. What’s more – and this is an unpleasant kick for both of us – Sarah is in the same position as me, and she’s vegetarian, so by rights she should be stick-thin and gasping for energy through lack of meaty-fun protein. So what has caused this?
Simples. I eat far too much. Oh yes, I eat healthily, but in vast quantities. I’ll go back for second and third-helpings. I’ll eat until I’m full. And then eat some more. And then have pudding. Sarah, whilst far better than me at portion-control, loves cheese and chocolate, and will eat the entire house dry of both. She’d probably eat chocolate-covered cheese given half a chance, if there was such a thing, and if it weren’t fundamentally disgusting.
And then there’s exercise. Some people love exercise. They love the endorphin rush of a good work-out. They fit exercise into their daily routine, and they reap the benefits both physically and mentally. Those people are weird. Weird and thin. Sarah and I don’t like exercise. Exercise is boring, repetitive, anoxic to the point of complete breathlessness, tiring, and above all, painful. We like sofa instead. Sofa is warm, comfy, snoozy, and in close proximity to telly.
The awful thing for me is that even if I lose 4 stone, I’m still overweight. All the BMI charts I’ve seen say that I need to lose 8-and-a-half stone. That’s an entire Hollywood actress!! You can literally remove an Ellen Page’s worth of my flesh and I’d still be a fully-functioning human being.
I could live with all of this as a single man with no children. I could quite happily spend my life in a cloud of my own flatulence, and then die alone and not be discovered for weeks until the smell gets really bad. But I have a wife and a child, and they need me around for a bit longer. Most importantly, I have a responsibility to show my child that being healthy is a lifelong commitment. I want to set the example to my daughter that it’s important to look after yourself, and at the same time, we want her to have a healthy relationship with food. We already do not insist that she finishes her meals, and she guzzles fruit throughout the day. We need to work on getting her to appreciate sweety treats as an occasional thing, and not something enshrined in the UN Convention on Human Rights, but one thing at a time, yeah?
So here is my promise to you, you strange unknowable person who has stumbled across this blog: I will, over the next year, lose at least two stone. If I lose more, it’s a bonus. I will also carry this diet over into next year. Because I have to. Because I’m sick of all the unattractive side-effects. Because I’m fed up of having my shirts act as a bra for my outsized tummy. Because I’m fed up of all the fitness apps tutting at me. I want to wear slim jeans, smaller t-shirts, and some of the more tailored clothes in my wardrobe. And I want to discover, once and for all, if I really do have a six-pack that lurks beneath my ocean of flab.
Good luck, me.