Despite the title, this isn’t a gaming article. I posted a poll on Twitter and received a reasonably positive response about whether or not I should post this article. Will I lose followers? Will anyone even take the time to read this?
Let’s find out. Let’s get real.
So, we’re going back to the early months of 2018. Things were going ok for me; nothing out of the ordinary was happening and my mental health had been pretty stable for a while.
Then a bombshell dropped, completely out of nowhere. My stepfather passed away suddenly – and completely unexpectedly. He was 57 (the same age my Dad was when he passed away in 2014).
Though he was pretty overweight and did have health issues
as a result, no one – not even his doctor(s) – thought there was any danger of
him dying because of any of these problems.
Here’s what happened, in a nutshell. For a few years, he’d been having trouble breathing when he slept; he wore a mask (I don’t know the technical name of the device) to help him in this regard – on this particular night, it came off while he was asleep.
He didn’t wake up the following morning.
It was absolutely devastating for my family. My stepfather had been part of the family – in terms of how long he’d actually been living with us and how long he’d been with my Mum – for way longer than my Dad ever was. Though he was a shy and introverted person who didn’t speak much, he was always friendly and didn’t begrudge the fact that, as teenagers, myself and my brother were bloody awful towards him.
Losing him was tough on us all. I’d been slowly and steadily putting weight on during my 30s and this was such a shock that I immediately told myself I had to change my lifestyle. I was 40 and about to turn 41; it terrified me to think that, like both my Dad and Stepdad, I might only have 16 years left.
So I set about trying to lose weight. I was probably the heaviest – and least fit – I’d ever been at that point – I’m only 5’9”, but weighed around 14 stone (or 196lb). I know that’s not exactly enormous, but even so it was way above where I wanted to be; for a time in my 20s, when I was socially and physically active, I weighed around 10.5 stone (145lb). I had an almost 38 inch waist, which was 10 inches more than when I weighed 10.5 stone.
So that became my target: get back down to 10.5 stone. I didn’t really know how, to be honest. My starting point was with food; I drastically cut down on the portion sizes of food I was eating and tried my best to eat healthier food.
Then, instead of sitting at my desk at lunchtimes, I vowed to take a brisk walk for my hour-long break and forced myself to do this no matter what the weather was like; not that easy a feat when you live in England, which is raining or cold – or cold and raining – for what feels like most of the year.
I also started walking to and from the train station and then onto (and back from) work every day. All of this added up and definitely helped, but it wasn’t enough.
So I joined the gym. Having been a member of a gym before and knowing what worked to help me get down to my previous-best weight, I had a workout in mind and stuck to it. A session of cardio – starting with ten minutes – and then a few upper-body weight machines.
Gradually I upped the weights I was exercising with. I slowly pushed my cardio workout to a longer duration and higher intensity difficulty levels. I also increased the frequency of my gym visits, going from three a week to four, then five, then daily.
At first, though I did lose weight, it didn’t seem to be going as quickly as I thought it would. It was incredibly hard to stay motivated during this time. Once I neared my goal, however, I kept pushing and – after five months of continuous hard work, I finally got there. I say finally, as if taking five months – to reverse the terrible habits and generally poor shape I’d let myself get into over the previous decade – was a long time, but it did honestly feel like it dragged on forever (especially at the beginning, when change does come but still doesn’t feel as instant as you may expect).
So yeah, I lost that 51lb. But even that wasn’t enough by that point; I still continued and ended up, by January, at just under 9.5 stone/132lb (yep, that’s 64lb I lost).
In the meantime, I went to see my doctor – a few days before Christmas – for my standard, over 40s health check (that, in all honesty, I’d been putting off). They measure your height and weight, take a blood sample, check your blood pressure, talk to you about your diet and drinking/smoking habits etc (I’ve been teetotal since 2008 and have never smoked in my life, so that was always going to be a plus for me).
At that point, I weighed 137lb (just under 10 stone). The doctor said she’d never tested anyone at this stage who was healthier than me; she said I had the lowest cholesterol count she had ever seen and rated me at a 1% chance of developing a cardio-vascular disease; she said she couldn’t go any lower than that – the target for that particular test is 10%. The message I got from her was loud and clear: keep doing what you’re doing. This test was vital, as so many of my relatives – and even a few friends – kept expressing how concerned they were at my weight loss, believing that I was sick – or well on the way to making myself ill. The problem was, if they were seeing me six months apart – at the beginning and then towards the end – I’m pretty sure the difference was very drastic. To me, it seemed gradual – and, measuring my weight every step of the way, I know it was a steady, safe decline.
Though I’ve relaxed a bit in terms of the food I eat now, I’m still attending the gym daily. The cardio workout I do has been steadily dialled up in intensity but I still do a whole hour of it every single day. I’m varying the weight machines that I do, but those have become heavier too. With me not being so careful with my food any more, I’m not losing weight but – as I’m keeping up with daily workouts and walking – I’m maintaining a weight and shape that I’m generally happy with.
I’m back to being just under 10 stone/137lb, but I’m fine with that. I don’t really want to lose any more weight (there’s little left to lose, really); it’s just the general toning that I’m now working on.
I tell you all of this not to brag. This, hopefully, can inspire you if you’re at a place where you aren’t happy, either with your weight or any other aspect of your life. Change is achievable, even later on in life – if you can spare the time to work on it (and if you can’t, as I thought I couldn’t, spare the time – see where you can change small aspects of what you currently do to fit in whatever it is you want to work on).
Weirdly, it was my success with achieving my fitness goals that gave me the impetus to start writing again. For many years I’d drifted away from writing, losing confidence and becoming such a perfectionist that I just never got anything written in a state that I was happy with. Yet here I am now, after starting this blog just three months or so ago, with close to 100 articles to my name. I’ve had work published elsewhere online, too – taking that total up even further.
This all takes time, of course. Time you may not have – or at least may not think you have. I’ve had to make concessions in almost every aspect of my life in order to fit all of this in, but it’s worth it. My health, both physically and mentally, is better than it’s ever been.
So really, this is just a very long-winded way of telling you this: if I can do it, you can too. You got this; it’s never too late. I’m not just talking about weight – and, in fact, you may be perfectly fine with the weight you are. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I don’t intend for this to be an article that makes you feel bad or one which encourages body shaming. My point is a more general, motivational one about any goal you may have; any task that may seem insurmountable or dream that may seem unachievable.
I know that whatever it is you need to do in order to change something you’re unhappy with, you can do it. I have faith in you.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this – or any of my other content – it’d be much appreciated if you’re able to share this article via social media. I’d also be forever grateful if you’re able to support me via: Ko-Fi.com/geekmid – which would assist me in writing even more content just like this. Above all else though, thanks for reading – I truly appreciate it!