There are quite a few pictures of me on my computer. The vast majority of them I have no love for. One or two I like a bit, but they’re the absolute minority.
When I scroll through my photo library I’m struck by how much (until fairly recently) I have avoided having my picture taken. There are vast gaps in my timeline where I take photos of objects or other people, but there are almost none of myself.
A candid photo of me will almost certainly catch me in a pose I’m unhappy with. When a man of my stature has so many awful angles to choose from, taking a photo that I dislike is not difficult.
Unlike some of my friends I don’t mind people taking my photo though. I take pictures of other people because I want to capture a memory of someone I like, and I assume they do the same with me.
Do I want to look at the pictures they take? No – not really. They can keep them to themselves.
Recently however I have been seeing other brave people in Slimming World putting up before and after photos of themselves and It’s amazing to see how some have changed.
They’re genuinely inspiring.
Unfortunately I haven’t got anywhere near my goal yet, but I do know where I want to be in a couple of years.
Because of this I need something to focus on when I’m sitting staring at the fridge in weaker moments (otherwise known as ‘days of the week’).
All of the photos floating on the SW Facebook group on the topic made me start to think ‘what’s the absolute worst photo of myself in my collection?’
In the last decade the LOWEST weight that I have recorded for myself is 24st 5lbs (155kg) in May 2008. Although to many this would be a starting point to me it was a massive achievement, and I’d lost almost 10 stone to get down to that.
This is how I looked.
The route I’d chosen to get there was however not the right one for me. I’d chosen a diet that relied on meal replacements, not re-learning how to eat real food.
The diet consultant I went to was an absolutely lovely woman, who genuinely cared – but I had ignored (and was unwilling to properly deal with) other problematic aspects of my personality and eating/drinking habits.
For a short time though I was fitter and happier (at least I thought I was) than I’d ever been.
Then the mental wheels came off the bus and I started destroying all my hard work. Looking back I remember actively working to sabotage myself again and again. Pretty soon, at the rate of a stone a month I had put it all back on. By February 2009 (when I gave up weighing myself) I was 32 stone 7lbs.
Years passed and then by mid 2015 this was the moon faced man I once again saw in the mirror. I’d learned by this time to hate myself in every conceivable way. I had developed diabetes and high cholesterol, and could barely physically move from one location to another.
The only way I could deal with this was by hiding from the world and covering my physical and emotional pain with food and alcohol.
When I finally stepped on the scales at Slimming World in April 2016 I was 34st 8.5lbs, and I know for a fact in the three months prior to this (thanks to giving up alcohol) I had already lost some weight by then.
So what’s the point of this?
Why am I posting this picture when I haven’t got back to where I want to be? I’m sure that the guy in this image still looks familiar to all that know me.
Sure – I’m a couple of stone lighter now, but I have a long way to go. I still can’t walk very long distances and my mobility (although improving) still sucks. The person I am now isn’t radically different.
Or is he?
Mentally something has changed. I can feel it deep inside – and it’s something I want to remember when I hit dark moments. I need to be able to look back and focus upon how I’m thinking here and now, so I’m writing it down.
I’m not thinking about dying any more.
I’ve said to many people (including my family) over recent years that I didn’t expect to see old age. Flippantly I compared myself to John Candy, who died of a heart attack at the age of 43 while filming Wagons East!
He was a smaller man than myself. Although I don’t know how heavy he was when he died some Googling suggests he was at times 325lbs in weight (some non-news sites suggest it was higher) and was approx 6 ft 1in. In contrast I am also 43, started at 484lbs and am 5ft 11.
I realise now how much me saying I expected to die so soon must have hurt the people I love. They were forced to see someone they cared about matter of factly admitting he expected to be dead in the very near future. Furthermore they also had to watch me slowly committing suicide by food and alcohol in front of them.
I’m not sure I’d have taken it as well as they did if the tables had been turned on me.
To be honest I still feel a lot of shame about that – but I have to move on and focus on what I can do right, not just kicking myself for what I did wrong.
So this – my most hated photo is something I may not have looked closely at had it not been for the people at Slimming World. I’m glad I took the time to search for it, crop out everyone else, straighten it up and present it to the world in all its morbidly obese glory.
It represents the man I never want to be again – and the more people that have this image, and read this post the better.
Not only do I want to keep this in the forefront of my mind and never forget it – I want each and every one of the people that know me to remind me about this photo if I falter in the future.
Anyway – that’s almost all I have to say today internet, but I want you to know that despite still being full of man flu and still having a long journey ahead I’m not feeling down.
I’m feeling positive – and I want to share that with others.
…can be who we want to be if we strip away the artifices we’ve constructed to hide from our realities. In order to effect long term and positive change the only way forward is to be truly honest with ourselves and others about who we are and why we do the things we do.