Whale V Fat

Fresh startBOY WONDER and I practised his new list of spellings tonight. When we got to ‘whale’, I added ‘like your Daddy, a big, fat mammal’. Bless him, he started spelling the word, pausing only to reply ‘you’re not fat, Daddy’.

But I am fat.

For men, that’s a hard thing to admit. We’re ‘big boned’, ‘stocky’, or it’s ‘just a beer belly’, like some lauded trophy.

The Duchess, bless her too, occasionally tells me Ray Winstone is attractive, which I think is a (loving) code. Mind you, in our 13 years together she’s never seen me sport yellow budgie smugglers. Nor has she seen those betting adverts.

I was first conscious of my weight when I started university, after a post-exam summer of indulgence, and the campus health advisor politely told me to lose a few pounds. The funny thing is, I was two stones lighter than I am now.

For most of my adult life, my weight went up and down without ever being too excessive. However, it shot up in my mid-thirties, beginning with our Italian honeymoon in 2006. Three weeks of gargantuan pizzas, robust pastas, steaks, red wine. Followed by a month-long world cup gala of pubs and parties.

Since then, I’ve often been disciplined at the start of the year, perhaps losing half a stone or more, only to gradually put it back on again. For example, by last summer I’d lost 10 pounds but ended the year exactly the same weight. As a friend says about himself, I’ve lost hundreds of pounds over the years. Yet, I’m still fat.

So, I’m interested in a new online community called Men V Fat. It was set up by a journalist who tried to get diet help a few years ago but found there was nothing out there for men. He says in a recent post:

Did you know over 80% of men are stressed at work, you’d be abnormal if you weren’t stressed. Did you know that issues with appetite are harder for men because they biologically need to consume more calories and because mass consumption is seen as a manly attribute (MAN v FOOD anyone?) It’s also painfully apparent that men get nowhere near the level of education that women do on how to cook healthy food and also advice on what constitutes healthy eating.

I’ve sought a little education over the past few years. I’ve read Gary Taubes and Tim Ferris. I understand that processed foods, so prevalent in the food chain, are destructive. Lager is no friend, either. Yet, they sure are tasty and convenient, hey?

I used to exercise regularly. Even after the kids were born, I ran up to 25km a week, to the point where I was chasing a PB in the 2012 Great North Run. Now I’m struggling to complete a 5k. Yes, I’ve developed asthma over the last few years but I’ve let it defeat me. Yes, I was studying intensely last year but in hindsight exercise would have alleviated the stress.

Too many excuses. (The same goes for updating this blog.)

I can’t afford them any longer. The kids are six and almost four. They deserve an energetic father, now and in 10 years’ time.

Men V Fat says that you’ve got to acknowledge you are fat – don’t laugh it off – work out why, set some goals and start doing something about it.

So, here goes…

Busy, busy, buzzzzz

'I'm a very mature student'

‘I’m a very mature student’

I’VE BEEN busy. No, I mean really busy.

At the start of the year, I began a postgraduate diploma. I figured I’ll be working for another 25 years so it’d be a good investment, give me that extra edge.

I knew it’d be hard, especially returning to academia after 20 years. But the Duchess told me: ‘It’ll only be nine months’.

Well, it is hard. Very, very hard. On Monday, I had to hand in two 2,500-word essays. I had just under a month to prepare and I must have researched a dozen books and another dozen journal articles for each topic. Made notes, ordered them, got my head round Harvard referencing.

I barely relaxed for the duration, didn’t watch TV once, studied most nights until midnight. And on the bus, the train, wherever possible. Despite all of this studious study I didn’t finish them until 3am on Monday morning. I’ve spent the time since convincing myself they’re crap, I’ll fail and so on.

I’m now preparing a 5,000-word planning assignment, due in July, and a 6,000-word project due in October. I’ll have to study hard throughout the period of the World Cup, not to mention most of the summer.

There is, of course, also the day job. Two lively, expectant children. Training for the Leeds half marathon and other duties like being a school governor.

Although this year is extraordinarily busy due to the diploma, I do wonder what it is about middle age, being a proper grown up, that causes such busyness?

I know lots of other people running sports teams for kids, training for Himalayan charity events, doing degrees before breakfast, having more than two children.

Ten years ago, most of us would have gone to work, come back, watched Hollyoaks, the Channel 4 news headlines, then eaten, drank, sat. We managed to waste hours watching TV, playing computer games, sitting in beer gardens. We were at the peak of our physical powers, unburdened by real work stress and we barely questioned watching trilogies with the curtains closed or two live footy games and an afternoon of six nations. Before going out properly.

Is it about being useful, as the hour glass turns the over way? Does busyness breed busyness? Do we all fear getting an ulcer if we dare to take our foot off the pedal?

Thing is, I haven’t really got time to think about it…

My big day out with the Big Fella

My son eating out

They should call this place Wagadada!

HELLO, MY name is Boy Wonder. My Daddy had a day off work yesterday to look after me because my Mummy was on a course. My baby sister was at nursery so my Daddy took me for a Big Day Out.

I was a bit excited the night before and Daddy had to reassure me that we wouldn’t miss the bus. He said they come along all of the time or we could even walk into Chapel Allerton but I still made him run when we left yesterday morning.

When we got to Leeds, which is our city and as big as England I think, he was still a bit sweaty. Poor Daddy, he turned 41 recently, which is very old. That’s what Mummy says.

I’ve started calling Daddy the ‘Big Fella’, which he doesn’t seem to like for some reason. Ah well, he started it with the nicknames.

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Fishing poo out of the bath and other potty training delights

Potty trainingA few weeks ago, we thought we’d cracked potty training but the initial euphoria quickly faded and we’ve remained knee deep in soiled nappies.

So, this week marks the beginning of the end. Or the end of the beginning. I’ve got a few days off work and Boy Wonder’s nappy days are officially over.

This morning, we strapped him into his Big Boy Pants and the day began. And it was quite a day.

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