Like many men in the UK, I suffer from a cavalier, almost dismissive attitude to my health. Basically, I only seek help when it’s turned black and about to drop off – that is, too late and too infrequently. And people close to me saying you need to do something about that – just puts my back up and makes me dig my heels in. I don’t know why men are like this, but I saw it in my dad, bless him, and I see it in myself.
Being in denial of my health issues resonates loudly with me, as I think it does with many men. However, this all changed when the chickens came home to roost in January this year. I finally presented to my GP about a knee injury that wasn’t getting better, and then said , my hips are not too good either, and is there anything you we can do about my weight? In reality – I should have appeared on his door about 3 years earlier to talk about my weight FIRST, not last –if I had, maybe I wouldn’t be having the conversation now about my joints.
He shocked me to the core when he confirmed a BMI of 47, he asked me: How did this happen? How did you get like this – all I could say was I don’t really know, I’ve always been big, it just crept up on me – and that’s the simple truth – as slow progressive weight gain – that I was in denial about until it was too late.
A month later X-rays confirmed severe OA in both hips and right knee – nothing can be done – I need a hip and knee replacement asap – only trouble is no one will even consider me for surgery until I have lost 10% body weight. I’ve never had a bigger motivator ever.
About the same time, a referral my GP made for me to the Bedfordshire lifestyle hub resulted in a meeting in my local leisure centre – where a really nice non-judgemental guy said: I can get you on a weight management programme, or on a personalised gym based exercise programme – I said: both please.
It took a while, but then out of the blue, and email arrived from a lady at BeeZee Bodies asking if I would like to take part in a men only weight and exercise programme called Gutless – I didn’t quite know what it was, but I said yes. That was six weeks ago, and I am now half way through the programme.
It’s a once a week meeting, on Tuesday evening for 2 hours. We spend the first hour doing exercise and then a warm down – it’s a mixture of strength/ muscle building and CV – it pushes you, but it’s fun. Then we all sit down, have a cup of tea – and discuss food…. Why we eat what we eat, the behaviours that lead us to do what we do, this week it was portion sizes. We also weigh ourselves and agree targets like food plans, exercise plans and a how much we would like to weigh the following week.
There are only 7 of us in my group; I understand there are other groups with 30 or so in them. The sessions are run by a personal trainer and a nutritionist from BeeZee Bodies – so 10 of us in total, and we all join in with the exercise.
I genuinely look forward to Tuesdays – both the interaction with our mentors and my peers, and I know I will miss it when it stops – which I guess is testament to how good I think the programme is.
I enjoy the exercise, but what I like most is the expertise and guidance of the BeeZee Bodies guys – they know their stuff, and deliver it in a motivational style. My attitude to food is changing, but the changes I am making don’t feel like a sacrifice – I am enjoying the healthier food I am eating, and don’t miss the things I no longer eat.
Personally, I’m at the start of a long journey – that will not end with this course, but I have taken the first few steps with the help of Gutless. I need to lose weight to get my life back – so far I have lost 3.5 kg – it’s not much, but with more exercise – as I get fitter – if I can get to a loss of 9 or 10 kg by the end of the 12 weeks – then that will be a great start and a real motivation to keep on going.
What would I say to other ‘big’ men?
Don’t make the mistake I have – don’t be complacent – do something about it if you start getting bigger – go to your GP and ask for help. Don’t deny that you are overweight – get hold of a full length mirror and look at yourself …..With no clothes on – it might be the kick up the arse you need to do something about it.
In the final analysis, to lose weight – you have to make a very personal commitment to yourself- to do something about it – nobody can make you do this – you have to want to do this for yourself. But, what I have found is that there are people out there who can make that tough decision a little easier for you –if you ask for their help.