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…