From fat to fit - or at least most of the way there....
My BMI is 28.5; that makes me overweight. Actually, that makes me damn near obese: If I put on an extra 12 or 13 pounds I would tip over into the “obese” category. Not exactly stellar, I know. However, when you consider that five months ago my BMI was 38.4 and climbing a flight of stairs used to leave me out of breath, I think I’ve done pretty well – and at the same time I went on a financial diet too, cutting my expenses right down.
How have I done it? Well I’m afraid there’s no great secret, “one weird tip” or magic answer, I’ve done it using a combination of diet, willpower and damned hard work, but I’m here to share my story with you regardless. So basically what happened was, in March I found myself homeless, and no longer in the relationship that I had been in for the last 5 years, which I’m sure you can agree is a pretty crap thing to happen to you, and on a Sunday of all days.
I got a roof over my head pretty quickly (my friends are ace like that) and once I was settled in, began trying to decide how I was going to rebuild my life, lose a bit (lot) of weight and claw my way out of the financial hole I was in. I’d recently read this report in work as research for something else and it got me thinking about my weight, I decided that a fresh start was just what I needed. Fun, huh?
First off, smoking and drinking were going to have to go for two reasons: one, money, and two: health. A night out on the beers is complemented by 20 Marlboro, and when you actually stop and tot up just how much you can spend on the two in a single evening (Then factor in a taxi and some godawful fried monstrosity from the chippy) the numbers are pretty shocking. Further to that, we all know how smoking is bad for you, but have you ever looked at how many calories there are in a pint or a bottle of cider? The answer is bloody loads. Three or four pints are the equivalent of a decent meal. So yeah, they got cut out pronto and I also started going to Slimming World. Not the coolest thing for a guy in his mid twenties to do, I know, but coincidentally I had happened to bump into an old friend around the same time who had had great results with the plan so I thought “Sod it, I’ll have a go”.
I spent the first week absolutely stuffed (as most people do on Slimming World, I’ve noticed) and convinced I hadn’t lost anything; but lo and behold, when the first weighday rolled round, I’d lost 4lbs. Pretty good, I think you’ll agree. What was even better was the fact that each and every week, I continued to lose – still am, in fact – and at the time of writing I’ve lost 77lbs altogether and am eagerly awaiting my next weigh in!
Now, some of you are probably reading this and thinking “Hang on a minute, I thought you were supposed to be saving money here? Doesn’t Slimming World cost money?” – And of course you’re right on both counts. However, Slimming World isn’t expensive (£5 a week) and I honestly think that having a support group there if you need it and the regularity of weighdays encourages you to keep at it, meaning you consistently lose. Also, Slimming World is all about producing good food from raw ingredients which makes life far easier once you come to the end of your time on the diet. I have completely changed my attitude towards food now, and I think a lot of people who do SW (That’s what the cool kids call it) find the same thing – meaning you don’t end up spending money on special supplements, powders or shakes, or end up simply yoyo dieting - Education is very important.
The other big, big change in my life is exercise. I used to do… Well none at all, really. I owned a bike, but it sat in the shed collecting dust and not doing much else. Luckily, in my new pad there was an exercise bike which meant that I could sweat and grunt in private (Oo-er!) without anyone seeing me, and a couple of hours a week on there cut through the fat in my thighs and calves like butter; I’m in better shape now than I have ever been before which has allowed me to get back on my actual bike; Quite often I now do ten mile rides after work and before tea.
This is actually my biggest financial tip: Don’t join a gym unless you absolutely have to. Get out and go jogging or bike riding, take the dog on a good long walk, spend a day climbing trees in the park; just get active and enjoy it! The more you look at exercise as a chore, the less likely you are to take it on. I quite often stay out on the bike far longer than planned simply because I’m enjoying myself, and the longer you get your heart and your muscles going, the better shape you’ll be in for it.
I’ve actually found that dieting has indirectly saved me money all over the place: I don’t have to buy clothes from “Big and Tall” shops any more with their big and tall prices, I can now pop into Primark like everybody else. I might still be a big Large, but I’m a big set guy anyway, and the fact that I can shop like normal people again is pretty nice. I’ve also found my shopping bills decreasing rapidly; a few days worth of fruit and veg will often cost you the same as a single microwave meal , and buying things like rice and pasta in bulk saves you a tremendous amount of money. I’ve become a master of producing good food using just a few cheap, simple ingredients, not to mention when you’re not ordering from the Chinese or Pizza place a couple of times a week you can save a boatload of cash.
The best advice I can offer anyone however, is this: Be determined. Yes, it’ll be hard at times. You’ll have roadblocks. You might even have a few lapses. However, just remember this: You’re doing this for yourself, not for anyone else. If you screw up don’t worry about it, but be realistic enough to know that it’s nobody’s fault but your own – just get back on the horse and keep going.