I’ve just made a lovely beef stew – and I’m sitting in the garden enjoying the smell of freshly cut grass mixing with the coriander in my dinner.
As I eat I’m thinking about the events of the last week.
My life definitely feels a bit weirder than usual at the moment.
I’m confronted with my own image everywhere in various sizes, shapes and periods of my life. People that didn’t previously know I was ever overweight have seen these and are beginning to realise who I used to be and ask me questions about my route back to health.
It’s been nice to get compliments – but I’ve also faced a lot of really direct questions – which I don’t mind.
It goes with the territory.
As usual the most common one (both online and face to face) is about what I do with the excess skin.
It’s clearly something a LOT of people worry about – but I’ll be honest and say that I’m perpetually perplexed by people’s preoccupation with this aspect of weight loss.
It seems to loom really large in almost all people’s minds.
More worryingly it actually seems to be a barrier to losing weight (or maybe an excuse not to) for some – which I find really bizarre.
Irritatingly it’s also one of those things that continually gets referenced as something that’s ‘worse for women’, or ‘it’s ok if you’re a man’ which is something I always fail to understand.
Men are no different.
Men have feelings too – and we (just like ladies) have to deal with the possibility that people might not find us attractive when they find out what lurks beneath our clothing.
I occasionally worry about the loose skin that I’m left with (it’s impossible to lose 20+ stone and not have any) but I see it the same way as I viewed gastric surgery.
I felt strongly (when faced with this being a distinct possibility) that it’s wrong to be cut open and remove huge chunks of myself – then throw them in the bin all because I lack willpower.
Probably because I felt that way about gastric sleeve surgery (which I came close to having) I also think it’s wrong to cut off excess skin that remains as a consequence of me finally finding willpower.
If I choose to do that then what I’m really saying is that I’m willing to be judged by a prospective partner from a visual perspective alone – and not because I’m someone with a mind and a personality that deserves to be loved.
The issue of skin is in a similar vein to the other comment (or variants of it) that I’ve heard a lot over the last few days.
This goes along the lines of ‘…it’s easier for men to lose weight’ or ‘…men just get on with it and always do better.’
It’s not true.
I’ve seen and spoken to plenty of men (particularly since my story went public) who’ve failed to lose weight or backslid and put loads back on just like I did many times before.
They struggle with self perception and they too worry about skin and how they will look, how they will find love, or how they will retain partners they already have.
I get the impulse to be ‘normal’.
I really do.
I also understand fears about judgement in the eyes of others and that people will recoil in shock when they see me topless or in more revealing clothes.
If I’m absolutely honest I’d dearly love to go swimming – but I can’t bring myself to do it… yet.
One day I will – but that’s something for the future.
Some things come easily – others (like this) take time.
It’s not like I’m in any rush though. There’s a lot to take in and process elsewhere – because not only am I getting an amusingly broad (and often quite strange) variety of people contacting me from all over the world on social media – but the traditional print medium still seems to be writing articles about me.
Since I’d only looked at the newspapers online to see what had gone live about me I’d not realised that the physical copies of the papers differ significantly from their web counterparts.
The Daily Star’s print article on me gave me the nickname ‘the muffin man‘ – referring to my old habit of eating two McDonald’s double sausage and egg McMuffins on the way to work every day.
I must admit I was perturbed by this for a moment – but then I thought ‘…what the hell – who cares? I’ve been public property thanks to my blog for two and a half years now and this is no different.’
What was a bit different however was how I discovered this headline.
I was told at the weekend that I’d appeared on Sky News – and although I missed the live segment today someone kindly sent me a recording of it and I watched the footage.
Not only did I see the Star’s headline but at the same time had the surreal realisation that Anne Diamond was talking about my huge old trousers and suggesting they could be re-purposed by being upended and used as a parasol.
Genuinely I didn’t see that coming – and neither did I expect to be likened to Wallace from ‘Wallace and Gromit and the Wrong Trousers’
I guess there’s humour to be found in every situation and honestly this did rather make me smile.
This afternoon there’s been more of the same ‘surrealness’.
Today I’ve been doing another interview to camera – this time in my garden for the BBC’s social media team – which I’m told will go live some time next week, although I’m not entirely sure whether this will be just on the web or will be on TV too.
Honestly I’m not in the least bit bothered which it turns out to be.
Every single time someone engages me and asks a question because I’m visible to the world it means that they’re thinking about how they can improve their own lives – and because of that there’s real and tangible value to being critically assessed by people who have never met me.
I genuinely don’t mind – I really don’t.
If I struggle to make sense of any aspect of this period in my life then all I have to do is refer to the real people with real lives and real problems that say my story has helped them.
Then it doesn’t matter.
It’s all completely worth it – because I’m helping people – just by not hiding and standing out in front of everyone and everything with no shame.
They’re not the wrong trousers internet.
They’re the RIGHT ones.
I didn’t know that when I purchased them and I had no idea they would be when I put them on – but now…
Now I realise they have power – just like I do – to inspire change.