Chris who grew up in Amanzimtoti and has been living in Johannesburg for the past 20 years. He is single (and looking) and works in the video and teleconferencing industry as an Operations Manager. Today we get to hear about his journey in his own words.
I didn’t start out at as the fat kid. I was a blond pixie of a child, skinny as can be. Until puberty I was active, ate relatively healthy despite my rampant sweet tooth which my mother tried to keep under control. I had a concoction of sugar, Cremora (coffee creamer) and coffee that I used to eat. I would sneak down to the kitchen at night to make that when everybody else was asleep. If I think of it now, I get sick just imagining it.
At high school, being the cultural kind I wasn’t that much into sports. Added to that the fact that I played violin, I refused point blank to set foot on the rugby field and feared the possibility of my hands getting damaged when someone stomped them in the scrum.
That’s how I was seen. “You’re big, you should play rugby, and you have to be a prop.” I had no desire to do so, and no amount of cajoling and veiled threats by the coaches could make me budge – not even trying to convince my parents to convince me. Another artefact of my puberty was the curious case of not fitting into clothing overnight. I used to grow in height one year, and settle into it the next year. Have school clothes fit on Friday and Monday it was too small.
An unhappy unhealthy young man
Fast forward about 20 years after school and I’m unhealthy, unhappy man using food is an emotional crutch. About two years before I got the OMG moment in my life, my father lost his leg due to diabetic complications and I moved back home to help look after him. Food became my very best friend. I would stop at the shops on my way home, smuggle in the bag of goodies and then hide in my room and eat all the things I shouldn’t. That continued for two years and I piled on about 27kgs.
Two months after my father’s passing in March 2014, I got an email from the Sureslim consultant I had been to two years before, with good success. It was the proverbial slap upside the head I needed. I realised that I couldn’t blame my circumstances for my emotional eating. My father wasn’t there to be the focus of my problems, I had to face them. I had a chat with my GP who also explained addictions to me. Food was my addiction. It could very easily have been drugs or booze or anything else. I chose food.
I was 147.7kg, wearing a size 46 and feeling miserable. In order for me to keep at the decisions I made, I needed someone to be accountable to. Being single, fat, almost 40 and living with your mother wasn’t conducive to having lots of romantic relationships blooming – so there wasn’t someone on that spectrum to support. Additionally mom’s mental health was already showing signs of deteriorating. I couldn’t expect much support at home, other than a vague “That’s nice, dear” every now and again.
I did not to it on my own. I had help from my weekly weigh-in with the consultant, some very supportive friends and colleagues, and later the fantastic people of the Sleekgeek Facebook Group. So I’ve had all the support and encouragement I could wish for. I even started a trend in the office and started to help and inspire others (as is the Sleekgeek way) – now most of our staff are eating healthier and drinking more water.
I learned to eat healthy. For me, a Low Carb High Fat diet works best. I look at carbs and I gain weight. I smell baked goods and I can feel my waist getting bigger. Portion size and time between meals, NO SNACKING, cutting out sugar and carbs. All those were things I learned and used to lose the weight. I have lost 35kg with diet control alone.
It wasn’t all rainbows and puppies. My biggest obstacle was and still is ME. I had to overcome my own ability to sabotage myself. That “Oh, it’s been going well, I can cheat and slack a little.” I STILL struggle with that voice in my head each day.
The other obstacle was the nay-sayers. The ones that go “You’re getting too thin” when you’re still far from your goal. Usually your childhood friend’s mother, because you’re looking different from the image they have of you in their heads. The almost-partner that says “Don’t lose more weight, I like you the way you are now.” I dumped that one before it got too serious. My answer to all of them was “I’m doing this for me, not you. Don’t tell me what is good for me.”
My worst time is the anniversary of my father’s passing. It hits all the emotional buttons, make me backslide to that old emotional eating pattern. That mind-set that I can eat my emotions and I will feel better. But you don’t. It makes you feel worse, then you want to eat that feeling away. It’s a vicious circle.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom either. My best day was when I slipped into the size 38 that I HAD to buy – saggy bottom jeans look terrible. When someone tells you it’s time for new pants, listen to them.
Another highlight was recently pulling on the size (L) Sleekgeek T-shirt, instead of a 3XL sack. When I made that shift in my head going from “You can’t fit into that size” to “OMFGZombieSparklePonies! I fit into this much smaller size!” It’s the small triumphs that make up the bigger successes. Tell yourself you actually ARE the new size, and stop seeing yourself as the big person you used to be.
Things have improved so much in the last two years. I’m more confident, not only in my professional space, but in my personal interactions with people. I’m not the fat friend that’s always smiling because they want to hide how unhappy they are. I’m the confident and happy person that is the life of the party because of who I am now.
I repeat my motto to myself every day. “Don’t measure your successes against your goals and see it as failure.”
Best with your personal journey!