This week Ian Morris celebrates his return to the gym as local facilities re-open, and muses on his experience of trying to lose weight as the government launches ‘Better Health’, a new obesity strategy.
The struggle is real.
Everything hurts, my tin of Diet Coke feels like it’s the weight of a bowling ball, I am ruined, and I haven’t been so happy about it for 127 days.
The gym is finally open again!
It was officially open on Saturday, but we cautiously left it until the Sunday to avoid the rush. Well, the good people at Anytime Fitness Cosham have it nailed. It’s a booking system only, you sanitise as you arrive and leave with all sorts of ‘wiping down stuff’, and the layout has changed so that you can respect social distancing.
Lockdown has been a challenge for many and whilst I’ve lost a stone, it appears from early results that this was almost entirely muscle. Tom, my eldest son, dropped four stones during lockdown (to add to the one he had lost before it) and it was clear he has not lost as much muscle. We went again early Tuesday morning, but strategically put Thursday’s session back to Friday as the levels of ruinification are pretty high. Tom will tell you he is stronger than me, but this is only a temporary situation.
Noah, my youngest, spitefully taunted us the day after our gym visits by throwing his arms in the air, shouting ‘Mexican wave! Wahey!’ and then booing us when we were unable to lift our arms above our heads and didn’t have the fortitude to hunt him down.
We seem rather on trend, as Boris and the government started to promote a healthy eating message encouraging the nation to fight against obesity and help the NHS. Boris himself is candid about his own struggles with his weight. I am good with all of this, with a big but (and I cannot lie), I was interested to see how social media responded to the government’s advice.
There was the usual tirade of ‘They just need to eat less and move more, the porky fat knackers’.
I have shared before that I am big: as of Tuesday, 25st 7lbs, or for those of you who prefer metric, very fat. This is despite my relatively active lifestyle and reasonably normal eating habits.
I went on my first diet when I was 5 weeks old. The ‘normal’ range for my BMI ends at 15st 1lb, I passed this when I was 12 and never looked back. Eventually, I topped out at 34st and underwent bypass surgery. This would ensure I would drop back to a normal weight. I lost 10 stones and then stopped. In the 10 years since, I have hovered between 23st 10 and 27st.
I am not asking you to feel sorry for me or to speculate as to whether I enjoy a bucket of fried chicken for breakfast. I don’t, it’s toast and marmite for preference, three slices, wholemeal (‘too many carbs, that’s his problem’). I share this with you because my fear is that this noble and wise endeavour to encourage the nation to get healthy and lose weight will lead to more stigmatisation of those of us that don’t conform to the normal range.
There is already plenty of evidence that young people are increasingly unhappy with their body shapes when comparing them to the air-brushed and unachievable bodies they see in the media. My fear is that a national push towards fat-shaming may end up being counter productive.
Interestingly the most vocal voices on weight loss and fitness seem to come from folk who can cram pies into their slavering maws with abandon and never gain any weight.
‘It’s all about education – munch, munch – the fatties need to know if they eat takeaway every day – munch munch – and sit about in their elasticated trousers doing nothing, they are going to keep getting fatter.’
Thanks for that pal, very insightful.
Most people with a weight problem will have spent their adult lives wrestling with various diets and can tell you how many calories there is in a fried egg sandwich (92 for the egg and the rest depends on the bread and lubricant of your choosing). If we want this initiative to create traction and achieve results, it should then we need to ‘be kind’ rather than passing judgement on those that are larger than you think they should be.
We can all make better choices, eat less and move more. Let’s hope this latest initiative doesn’t get boiled down to another soundbite –
Eat less, shame the fatties, help the NHS.
Something for the Weekend will be back next Friday, tackling national issues from a local perspective. In the meantime, you can check out all of Ian’s writing for S&C, here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast.