I have been overweight for as long as I can remember. I believe that many reasons came together for that to happen. I will not bore you with the details.
The point is that it did not matter to me for most of my life. I was never an unhappy chubby or a victim. In the playground, I was too good at most sports to ever be the last pick when sides were chosen. I also think that I was both clever and self confident enough to avoid being teased or bullied about my weight..
But, as I aged I drifted into a spiral of decline. Nothing dramatic or life-threatening to start with. A busy, sedentary career meant that I gradually spent less time exercising and more time growing shorter of breath and even heavier.
Eventually, I was told by a consultant cardiologist that I would be dead within about five years if I did not do something about my weight. That was about three years ago.
So, I asked my GP for a referral to the NHS weight loss support resources. it was the best thing that I have ever done. I am now in a far better place than I have been for years.
I had often tried to lose weight before. We’re talking Weight Watchers, Atkins, Scottish Slimmers, cabbage soup, the egg diet and all the other usual suspects. I always lost weight, as most people do, but I always piled it back on with interest.
This time has been different. It has been structured and gradual and I have bought into every step of my personal ‘journey’.
The first stage was monthly meetings with a group of fellow fatties. That opened my eyes. We shared so many problems and our lives had been blighted in such similar ways. It really was good to talk.
Some of us, however. did nothing but talk and effectively dropped out. Others clearly found those group sessions were enough to make them walk the walk as well as talking the talk. They enjoyed dramatic weight loss.
I was in the middle. Never losing very much weight but never going in the wrong direction. I was also getting so much useful dietary and life style information from every session.
That included the bleak statement of fact that bariatric surgery was often the best possible solution for morbidly obese people like me. It was also made clear that such surgery could only be an option if you could prove that you could lose enough weight to qualify for it. I knew that I was finally serious about losing weight when I admitted to myself that I might sign up for such a drastic solution if all else failed.
I got through the group stage well enough to qualify for the ongoing one to one support and that is where I got lucky. Firstly, I got the support of a dedicated and highly competent professional. Secondly, I arrived at that support stage when the Cambridge Weight Plan was being trialled by NHS Lothian. Thirdly, I was accepted as part of that trial.
I was given time to have a deep breath and think about it. The bald statement that you will not have any solid food for several months and will rely on four shakes a day for all your nutrition throughout that period does sound a bit daunting. The delayed start meant that I had time to tell all my friends and family what I was going to be doing and to make sure that I cancelled or postponed all possible social occasions which might conflict with that strict regime. Including, in my case, Christmas 2015.
It was the easiest stage of the process for me. The balanced nutrition of the shakes meant that I never felt hungry or had any cravings. My shopping became totally focused. I only bought food for my wife and walked straight past the items that would have been my normal nibbles or treats.
The weight just dropped off and here I am on the other side of that strict regime in the food re-introduction stage. I really believe that I have changed my eating habits for ever and that I am on the road to a fitter, a thinner and, hopefully, a longer future. I have lost 15% of my starting body weight and expect to cruise through 20% at some point in the foreseeable future.