When the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine suggested that I speak at Elevate on a panel debating the notion of being Fat and Fit, I did not take it as an insult (it was a privilege and an honour to both represent the Faculty and to speak to such a distinguished audience).
For I am fat and I am relatively fit
I can swim, cycle, run (all slowly, mind), lift weights and I can play with my step-sons. I am a try-athlete and a triathlete (number 210 is still inked on my leg).
But, I am fat and over the past year, I have gained more weight as I allowed injury and my mental health to impact on my training and my eating.
However, I do know that by cycling and walking daily and going to the gym that I am in a better position than had I just sat on the couch.
At a recent health check, my blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood glucose and cholesterol levels were all within a healthy range, even if my BMI was not, and since increasing my activity levels, my mental and emotional health have again improved. While I still want/need to lose weight and I am fully aware of the dangers of being obese, I am appreciative of how being active improves my overall health.
The World Health Organisation states that health “is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” and this week’s news, labeling the notion of being fat and fit as a myth, seems to have largely ignored this, even if its main claims are not to be ignored.
Being active enriches my life and a huge part of me wants to help others discover the same joy and that is why I have used opportunities like Elevate and even my FSEM Lay View to promote physical activity for all. It is why I write this blog and why I launch campaigns and initiatives to encourage others to become try athletes, regardless of their age, ability or size.
However, I will not lie. I have struggled of late. As I invest more time into helping others, devising schemes and writing blogs, the time spent on my own well-being shortens and my waistline widens.
Today, two things happened that decided a new course of action and a new direction.
Facebook’s “On This Day” brought back a memory from 18th May 2014.
This was the day that I ran my first and only marathon. It was my proudest achievement but also the peak of my athletic performances. From the moment I crossed the finishing line to about about four days ago, I have coasted and I have felt lost.
I have searched for a purpose; I have searched for ways to use my story and experiences to help others and I have searched for recognition.
And all too often, I have searched for conflict and too many of my posts are filled with despair and anger.
I have stopped looking for ways to have fun and for ways to keep me moving. Everything now is judged on its potential as a blog feature or it is measured on its ability to promote How Many Miles. If I am going to ever be an Ironman (or even a fit man), I have to focus less on being a try-athlete and more on being a triathlete. I have to stop worrying about writing blogs and focus on updating food logs, especially if I am to reverse the damage done over the past few years. Damage that has been fully illustrated via my love of gadgets and technology (all the gear and no idea).
For in addition to the fantastic seminar by Professor Greg Whyte (there WILL be a FSEM post on this at some point) there was one stand at Elevate that caught my eye and today, I looked at the results of of my session with them and it proves that a picture is worth a thousands words.
This is ME, fat and fit but mostly fat. Using the cutting edge technology of the Styku 3D Scanner I have finally come to terms with how I look and feel about myself.
Regardless of my general level of fitness, my excess fat is a greater risk and I cannot ignore the image above. There is no hiding from the truth and there is no cropping of pictures to hid my girth.
I might be fit, but I am unfortunately fat and even as a supporter of body positive campaigns, it is hard to see anything positive about my current physique (other than it is still over 100lbs lighter than my heaviest).
So, I have decisions to make. Do I continue on my current path and continue to make the same mistakes or do I accept that change is needed.
It is time for change
An inner voice is calling on me (and has been for some time) to give up blogging and to give up campaigning and launching initiatives. Yes, I have had some notable successes, but I havve also experienced difficult times and while I do enjoy writing, all too often the writing of blogs and the promoting of said blogs has felt like a chore.
I have judged my value as an individual on my ability to accrue views and comments on blog posts and with the number of Twitter and Facebook shares and likes. I have become paranoid, resentful and at times delusional. I have let my persona of How Many Miles take over my life
It is time for change
I am not one for making sweeping changes and I have always benefited from making one or two changes at a time and then assessing the results. If something works, it continues and it mitigates the need for further action.
Most of my anxieties and self destructive behaviours stem from the frustrations borne from my failings as a blogger, event coordinator and physical activity champion. I try so hard and I often try too hard. I appointed myself as a guardian of the obese and the inactive. I made it my responsibility to stand up for them and to challenge the status quo. I made enemies and I am not sure if I have made a huge difference.
It is time for change.
I enjoy writing too much to completely give it up and I do get to have some fun, so howmanymiles will continue, albeit in a simpler, smaller and less confrontational form. I will post updates on my Ironman training and anything related to regaining my fitness but gone are my campaigning, my ranting and my pursuit of blogging superstardom. I will write to help keep myself accountable and hopefully it will entertain and encourage others. I will not lose sleep or friends over it.
I also genuinely enjoy supporting others and devising plans to get others active, but when I see my name omitted from credits, others rewarded for my efforts or my ideas fall flat, it saps my energy and usually drives me towards some form of chocolate. I admittedly get involved in far too many projects and cannot resist taking on more challenges when I am struggling with my current commitments. I let myself and others down and I head again for some form of chocolate. Yes, there is a pattern forming.
It is time for change.
I will honour and complete the roles and partnerships that I actively support and anything new that will complement my Ironman aspirations will be considered, but I will be discarding a few more roles and I will not be able to help any more businesses or organisations. I will not seek any more blogging opportunities that don’t directly relate to my own wellbeing (time to lead by example) and I have removed myself from blogging groups in which I have learned to loathe the very nature of blogging and sadly, many of those who practice it. I will continue with my reduced presence on Facebook and make a real effort to connect with friends in the flesh.
If you are one of those that I have disconnected from over the course of the last year, then I am sorry. You were most likely a good friend and it was my paranoia, angst, self loathing and fear of rejection that drove us apart.
These changes will reduce my levels of anxiety while enabling me to spend more time training and less time on the internet. I can’t promise to bounce back overnight and my excess pounds will not magically disappear, regardless of what that skinny coffee selling person tells you (sorry, I promised no more ranting) but I am going to take advice from Professor Greg Whyte.
I am going to aim to do more today than I did yesterday and I am going to prove to myself and others that the impossible is possible and most importantly, I am going to stop being Fat and Fit.
I am going to be an Ironman