This is me aged 16. Not the greatest photo but thankfully social media wasn’t a thing back then so there isn’t many photos to choose from. I have cropped the photo but we had bunked school for a few days to build a 12 foot camel that 5 men could fit in for our halloween ball. We didn’t win best dressed despite 60 hours of effort.

Back then I was 9 stone. I can remember never thinking about my weight back then, I think I was like Zebra in the jungle who thinks he is a Lion and there is no mirrors in the jungle so who cares what anyone else says. Having been a part of loads of different football teams from the age of 4, there was plenty of people who would try and use my boney configuration as ‘banter’ but luckily I learnt the rule of owning a joke early. If I make the joke about an insecurity then it doesn’t leave people much places to go with it. Girls would offer such comments like ‘I prefer a man with more meat on him’ and such like but as would go on to be a theme over the rest of my life, my naivety and blissful ignorance to Girl’s coded meanings protected me from having to think too deeply about what the hell they were talking about, I am a Lion for god’s sake and I have plenty of meat on me.

15 years later and I am 14 stone. A whole 5 stone lighter and still i am ‘Skinny’ or ‘Don’t look as heavy as that’ I have no problem with any of this, people get a lot worse than these comments and generally it is just people saying words but it is telling how it does shape your perception of where you fit in. Back in the photo as a 16 year old I hid under Large tops and hoodies, despite me saying that I had no awareness of my slight build, there must of been an effort to cover up. So onto now.

We have started a weight loss challenge at IO with a twist,

Pay £50, lose 4% of your bodyweight in 4 weeks or the £50 goes to a charity you dislike.

I joined up for a few reasons, I genuinely wanted to see what half a stone of weight loss would look like in terms of shape and also for performance and also I wanted to join our members in doing it. I have never joined in any other competitions before as I am sort of damned if I win and damned if I don’t. What I have found from the 2 weeks so far has been quite and insight for me

  • I have taught people for years that they need to make a decision to do something and once you decide that you are trying to lose weight then throw everything behind it. Constantly being on a ‘diet’ must become like the alarm that gets ignored, you are thinking about healthy choices but every little decision slips slightly and this adds up to little or no weight loss. Short bursts of weight loss are more achievable physically and most definitely psychologically.
  • Saying you are on a diet opens you up to comment, it could be just my job but when asked about the competition people will say lovely things, weird things and sometimes quite mean things but without intent because that’s just what people do. If I had a problem with my weight then I can understand not telling anyone, bugger opening myself up to comment, especially if I was at a fragile phase.
  • There is no right amount of speed of weight loss, I lost 5 pounds in a week and this was too fast for most. I was fairly open about being very active but the common consensus was that I was starving myself.
  • The scales make no sense. When I think the scales should be down they are up, when they should be up they are down. I teach people to look at trends of weight but what that number says can affect my actions for the rest of that day and I don’t even have any emotional attachment to the number, I can’t imagine what it must be like for people that really do.

The reason the Zebra analogy is fairly apt is that throughout my life I have never know what I look like, I struggle to see where I am placed and I often ask Lynsey to point out someone who physically looks like me. Even then I still don’t get it. This is probably common. We probably all just guess at what we look like based on comments from others and our own viewpoint and act accordingly. After even 2 short weeks I think that our identity defines our behaviours much more than the other way round. Zebra’s are pretty but I want to be a Lion so I am going to act like one.

If you are reading this and wondering what the hell I am talking about then my main takeaway point is to commit to whatever you are trying to do and try to block out what others may say.