It's Good to See So Much Less of You

It may (or may not!) seem strange but this is a statement I have heard said about me a number of times over the last few months.  For many years I have been conscious about my weight and have had both family and friends along with my GP recommending that I lose weight, however, although having tried many times, I have barely managed to stabilise my weight let alone reduce it significantly only to see it go up at Christmas and holidays. 

Earlier this Summer I saw my GP again following another set of blood tests - which were originally triggered by my diagnosis with gout in the Autumn of 2008.  For a number of months other levels in the blood were worryingly high and so my GP referred me to a Consultant at the local Hospital.  Upon arrival at the Hospital I was diagnosed with "Metabolic Syndrome" which appears to be a collective term for a range of symptoms, and I was told in no uncertain terms that I had to lose weight.

This was the shake up that I needed to motivate me to take action.  It is always said that: it is one thing to be made aware of a condition; another to think about changing habits of a lifetime; but it takes something more to kick a person into action.  This was the final kick I needed - the heightened blood test results were raising worrying risks and I had to face the fact that I needed to change and change now.

I left the hospital and for the next fortnight tried again to modify my diet and lose weight.  This partly worked but after two weeks of effort I realised that to lose weight properly I need a major change of lifestyle.  At this point I became aware that I had to treat my use of food (in its type and quantity) as an addiction as with any other substance one might become dependent on or addicted to.  I needed to face it head on and change completely.

For me, food has always been enjoyable, sometimes used as a reward (we are so often rewarded with food, cakes, sweets when young),  or for comfort at times of worry, stress or sadness.  It has also been something to make the most of - I grew up in a family of 5 children where food was not wasted and was seen as a precious commodity, therefore food was not left on the plate and never thrown away.  All of these issues and more had to be confronted for me to tackle my eating habits.

It was no good being told to eat wholesome food as for years I had eaten home cooked meals using healthy ingredients.  The trouble was that I would eat too much and too often.  I knew I had to change and change would not be easy.

My decision was to rewrite my daily diet from scratch.  To create a new regime with a clear policy of what I would eat and when.  Breakfast would be cereal, lunch a single roll with meat filling, the evening meal a mixed salad with a meat (cold or hot).  During the day I could have a range of fruit and one yoghurt as and when I wanted or felt I needed a snack. 

It is hard to stick to this working in an office where there are often food, snacks, biscuits and cakes on offer all day every day.  It is also difficult when on the road travelling or going out for meals and special occasions.  Yet with the support of my wife who allowed her diet to be turned upside down  I have over the last few months lost over 31 pounds in weight (somewhat over 2 stones/ around 14 kg). 

I still have a long way to go in losing weight but my waistline has been shrinking - I have gone down over a size in trousers and also tops.  It is now common for people to comment on my shrinking size hence the title for this piece "It's good to see so much less of you."  

In regards to my physical health, I now walk regularly, often 5 miles a day, and feel much healthier than I have for many years.  I have since returned to the Consultant at the Hospital who was so impressed that he signed me off back into the care of my GP and the good news is that most of the worryingly heightened blood levels which were of concern are either back to normal or significantly reduced.

The challenge I face is to keep the diet going, to remember that it is very easy to slip again into old habits and to recognise that the weight can go on just as easily (if not more so) as it has come off.  Most of all I must be aware of why I eat, when I eat and what is happening inside me.  If I am needing to deal with stress, anxiety or worry; if I need a pick me up; if I need a reward or comfort, then I need to consider what is wrong, what my need is, and where else I should look for this support.  I need to look for the higher power to help me at those times, to the God who loves and cares for me, Who knows my every need and Who I can approach through Jesus Christ His Son and my Saviour.

Jonathan Clark, October 2010

Jonathan Clark, 06/10/2010
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