Wednesday 21 February 2018

I have never been a healthy weight

It seems the timing of this whole malarkey couldn't be better. The panic over obesity hit a new high last week when new figures appeared to show that pretty much everybody in the country will be overweight or obese by 2030. It is already freakish to be a healthy weight in Ireland, with most people being overweight or obese. I have never been a healthy weight in my adult life. Indeed I rarely was as a child either. In fact I don't think that deep down I actually believe that I am capable of being a healthy weight.

Of course some people will say that I am a healthy weight and if you take some kind of crude measure like BMI, I possibly am. But BMI, let's face it, is bullshit. If you take my height and weight right now my BMI is 22.2 which means I am in the healthy range. But that takes no account of whether that body mass is made up of a skinny frame and excess deposits of fat or a lean muscular frame. Two guys could have the exact same BMI and one guy could have no fat on him at all and the other plenty.

I have a skinny frame. I do not have a lot of muscle, something I intend to do something about once I have the full mobility and strength back in my left arm again. What I do have is deposits of fat. They have been with me as long as I can remember and I can't imagine being without them. But I guess the basic laws of physics and biology dictate that I could get rid of them. I lost another two pounds this week. This means I have lost 13lb in all. I am four weeks in now. The likelihood is that I will do this diet but three more weeks, finishing it at the end of May when I go on holidays. If I do that I will hopefully lose another half a stone. I am unsure whether this will be pure fat I will lose. If it is, I do not know how much fat this represents visually. As in I don't know how much I need to lose to have no desposits of blubber. I could go along with the general feeling on this which is "You've lost enough weight now. Well done, and now try and keep it off. Shure you're fading away to nothing." But I wonder if this isn't my big chance to actually become that thing I never thought I come become: a lean, healthy person without tits and a belly. Maybe I should keep up this momentum and maybe I can really change who I am. Maybe I can finally not be a fat person.

When I spoke to Donal O'Shea recently he questioned this diet. And I don't blame him. I have huge admiration for O'Shea. I think he is one of the most important and compelling people in the country right now. I think he is a man of huge courage and integrity too, and I think he is taking on incredibly powerful vested interests. He questioned this diet on a few levels. Firstly, he did not think it was sustainable. He also thought it was not affordable or realistic for ordinary people. And he also thought that I didn't really have a weight problem and that my main task now is to keep off the weight I have lost over the past three years.

I take his points in general but from my personal perspective I disagree. On the sustainability front, of course I won't be keeping this up. But I think it is sustainable in the sense that this diet is changing my habits. I don't believe in willpower, which is weak and limited and wears down the more temptation you face. What I do believe in is harnessing the incredible power of the subconscious through habit. And I believe this diet is changing my habits fundamentally, especially with regards to sugar. I was addicted to sugar and I am now fundamentally rethinking that treadmill. Sugar addiction involves constant eating and see-sawing. I have broken that vicious circle and I hope that in three weeks time I will not lapse back into it. As regards realistic and affordable? If i was paying, my seven weeks on this diet would have cost me about €800. But bear in mind that that means that for seven weeks I will have spent nothing on food. Also bear in mind that that €800 will have lost me probably 18 to 20 pounds in weight and hopefully we have reset my notions about portion size and how I eat. And then think how much that will save in the long term in health costs if I keep the weight off, which I intend to. Potentially, that's €800 to change my life.

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