Despite only recently making the decision to get serious about my health and fitness, I’ve been feeling pretty up and down about my body and my weight for around four years. Time and time again, I’ve come up with gimmicks and quick fix solutions, thinking I could find the magic silver bullet to averting my eyes every time I see a mirror. Sugar free drinks. Elaborate rules about what I eat that didn’t change anything fundamental. Buying dumbbells that gather dust in the corner of the living room. For four years I found more and more ways of putting off the inevitable, and truly understanding the state of my health. And for four years I found more and more ways to ignore the fact that I was a fat bastard.
The first time I can remember starting to realise I was a fat bastard was on a holiday in the South West of England. For five years prior I’d been vegan, and I’d just recently begun eating dairy and eggs again. After a few months, I started to notice my body expanding in ways that were unfamiliar – which I assumed was largely down to thrusting cheese back into my diet. But after a few more months of growing and growing, I came to the sad conclusion that this wasn’t going to just go away if I ate less or no cheese.
I don’t recall if there was a particular moment or event that triggered it, but this realisation culminated in the ultimate in quick fix solutions – installing fitness apps on my phone. Perhaps intuitively, I thought that I needed to get a handle on the scale of things. If I had no record of what I was currently eating, what exercise I was getting, and so on, how could I change things at all?
So far so good. With my jazzy new free mobile apps installed, I began logging my meals and checking in on how many steps I’d taken. Naturally the exercise app remained unopened and unused. But I felt good about the seemingly high numbers on my pedometer each day (who knows if they really were high? But they made a damn impressive bar chart). And there was something therapeutic about recording all my meals and reminiscing about they were all so delicious. I didn’t bother looking at the data for a couple of weeks.
Holy fuck it was a shock when I did. Percentages were flying high all over the place – spiralling at over 4 and 5 hundred in places. Over the course of two weeks, not a single day had passed where I’d not consumed over 4,000 calories or double the recommended intake for saturated fat and sugar. On two separate days I’d taken in over 8,000 calories and 100 grams of saturated fat. Most days, my breakfast had seen me nearly hit – or in some cases exceed – the amount of calories I was supposed to have in an entire day. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this.
I didn’t last long before deleting the apps (although I kept the pedometer, because who doesn’t want to know the exact speed they walk at throughout the day!?). With them gone, I think I convinced myself that I could just make small tweaks to my diet and it would all be okay in the end. I definitely felt that the scale of it was just overwhelming – far too much to take on.
And so with the apps went any drive or interest in changing. At the end of the day, a few extra numbers on the scales didn’t matter. I’d always been a little scrawny, so why care about filling out my t-shirts a little more? Sure 8,000 calories in a single day is excessive, but fizzy drinks and takeaways are a price worth paying, right? I’d got by just fine so far in my life like this, so why bother? The status quo was just so appealing.