Another Loss - This Time Weight
This blog carries a parental advisory label. If you are squeamish, sensitive or are in any way repulsed by the exhibitionist tendencies displayed in the last blog, you would be advised to look away, or stop reading now. There is also some very mild swearing. You've been warned ... Mum.
I am less of a man than I used to be. This is a literally true. Indirectly, this is a result of our son's involvement in Ballet. Long before he started at the Ballet School, I would often stand and wait for him to come out of class. The teachers would often be out waiting while the children were still in the changing room, and we would stand and chat. Ballet teachers are often young, attractive and thin - this is Fact One. I'm just putting it out there. The parents would also wait. The parents of Ballet Children are often middle age, prosperous and sit at desks all day. This is Fact Two. Between Fact One and Fact Two rests an awkward gap. Delusional as I may be, I considered myself stuck somewhere in this gap. I clearly didn't belong to the Ballet Teachers of Fact One. But, I surely wasn't a member of the parent group of Fact Two. I didn't look like them either ... Or so I thought.
Here is Fact Three: The mother of our children describes one of my most endearing qualities as having the sensibilities and preferences of a teenage American girl. Dawson's Creek, My So-Called Life and Hart of Dixie have the same value to me as Hamlet or Othello. Well perhaps this is not quite the case for Hart of Dixie - but I still really enjoy it. Please bear this fact in mind if you continue reading to the point where all three facts converge. This is going to be a long story.
It was November 2013 - I remember the event clearly. I was working away and staying in an luxurious hotel. There was a set of scales in the bathroom, and one evening I thought I'd have a little experiment - just for a laugh - and see how much I weigh. The digital number reached 90 Kilos (for stone, just divide by 6). This could not be right. The last time I weighed myself, I had been 75 Kilos. That had been sixteen years ago, when I was twenty-seven. I stood off the scales, and stood back on again. The figure remained the same. I breathed in. I made myself taller. No change. I went to my iPad and looked up the healthy weight for my height. I was firmly into the overweight section and beginning to convincingly approach the fiery red part of the graph - according to the NHS, I was nearly obese. I had never really thought about why I always needed to wear baggy clothes, and my reluctance to wear just a t-shirt in summer. It also explains that whenever I got measured for a suit, or bought a new pair of trousers, I assumed that I had some temporary bloating owing to something I'd eaten, probably oats.
I was clearly experiencing severe denial, and this is the point where the three facts converge. I looked nothing like those young healthy ballet teachers; I was definitely one of the parents. I looked at our ballet dancing son, and realised that he is going to grow taller, leaner and stronger, and I was going to become heavier, less active and even more middle aged. Thankfully, there is a Teenage American girl locked away in my heart, so I knew what I had to do. I had to start preserving my youth. It took a year. I made sure that on no day did I exceed two thousand calories, and on some days I carefully only consumed six hundred. I weighed myself every three weeks, and hoped to see a 3 kilo loss each time. I became an expert in nutrition. I know how many calories are in a piece of toast and marmite, and how many are in a baked potato and cottage cheese. I didn't deny myself sweets, but ate fewer and realised that they counted to that day's calorie allowance. On our last family holiday, I ate ice-cream only once. I still avoid pastry, white bread, anything with cream in it, and surprisingly, hummus. I eat salad every day, and make it more exciting by adding jalapeños and hemp seeds. I am wary of sun-dried tomatoes. I researched all I could about fasting and a calorie restricted life-style; and found some reasonably convincing links to Alzheimer's prevention (please see my last blog). I started to swim daily - sometimes twice a day, and now I have again began to run regularly. I'm over twenty kilos lighter than on that day in November 1993. When I look in the mirror, I am surprised by the person looking back. I appear older and more care worn. I don't notice the loss of weight.
Oprah once declared her weight loss to be the biggest achievement of her life. With all her wealth and influence, I cannot understand how this is true. I do not consider it an achievement. I find sustaining this healthy life-style irritating. The attention to detail is exhausting. I miss most the permission I used to give myself to be passionate about sweets and ice-cream. Give me a bag of gelatine-free 'Percy Pigs', and I am as happy as a different kind of pig in the proverbial sh*t. I still wouldn't dream of getting on a train without them, or the sour jelly caterpillars that they also sell at M & S. There's an ice-cream place not far from where I live where they know me by name, and I have their number so I can call and pre-order cinnamon flavour if I am going in that day. This is absolutely true, they used to make a batch just for me. I haven't phoned for a while. It feels like we've split up. We just grew apart. I still go in now and again, and I perceive a sadness in their eyes. They miss me.
When my belt begins to feel tight, I panic. This never used to be the case. I never noticed - it was always tight, especially after lunch. I'm concerned where this transformation will lead next. Will I be dying my hair to hide the grey? Simon Cowell white teeth? Spray tan? When the metamorphosis is complete will I resemble someone from TOWIE?
A couple of months ago, we were getting on the bus. Our son turned to me and said, "Dad, for a man your age, you have the most amazing posture." He's a ballet dancer in training. He knows all there is to know about posture. I ignore the bit about my age, and think about this comment. I imagine I am wearing it like a badge of pride. I'll have a t-shirt made. I'm nearly forty-five. I have "great posture". I'm so happy.
"Who wants to live forever? I get untold satisfaction from the pleasures of the feast." - Templeton the Rat in Charlotte's Web.