In March of this year, my entire life changed.
Without boring you all with details, I found myself homeless, spat out of the end of a nearly five year relationship and with no clue where to go next – both personally and physically.
I spent the next week in a haze – a hangover after a five year binge that I simply could not shake off. A punnet of grapes a day was all I was eating, and I was chewing gum constantly. As you can imagine, the poor diet combined with stress meant that I lost weight over those seven days – not much, I grant you, but a noticeable amount for sure.
I’d wanted to start dieting for sometime – I stopped drinking in 2009 and lost a good amount of weight then, but I was still a big chap – and losing that first little chunk of weight was a revelatory moment. I realized that for the first time in years I didn’t have to concern myself with cooking for somebody else, and as such I could devote time to me.
To begin with, I decided that I wasn’t going to actually “diet” with a capital D – I was just going to eat a little better, not really weigh myself, but keep an eye on my figure and see how it goes – from experience, I have to trick myself with big life changes: Pretend that it’s not a big deal so I’ll actually go through with them.
Well, as I type this now, four months later, I have lost four stone ten, and still want to lose another stone and a half or thereabouts, and I’ll be honest with you, it’s the single best thing I’ve ever done. The benefits are almost too numerous to count, but can be split broadly into three categories:
Before I started dieting, I had convinced myself that I was a hideous, lumpen river troll of a man, doomed to spend his life shuffling through ditches and drains so that women and children didn’t run screaming from me as I hefted my way around town. Now, for the first time in years I can bear to look in the mirror at myself, and occasionally will even allow myself a nice thought about my appearance – something I never, EVER would have done six months ago.
I’ve also discovered a love of going clothes shopping – For the first time in my life I fit comfortably into a large without looking lumpy and out of shape, and thanks to my girlfriend’s best efforts I am also trying to get out of the entirely black wardrobe I currently have – it’s amazing the sort of thing we use as crutches when deep down we’re not happy.
Money is an interesting one when it comes to dieting – whilst losing weight can actually be quite expensive, other aspects of your life get cheaper. For example, as you lose weight you will spend a lot of money on new clothes and diet group fees (if you decide to do things in the same way as me), but you will find that your grocery bills decrease markedly as you cut out the unnecessary food items and start to replace things for healthier equivalents.
Of course, there are other things you can do to benefit both your diet and your financial situation: Walking instead of driving, for example, can make a huge difference to both your petrol consumption and the size of your thighs, and both in positive ways too!
Longer term, you will also find that things like life insurance premiums will also be far less expensive (and the application process far simpler) with a lower BMI. A BMI of 30 or more could mean an extra 50% being piled onto your premiums, while a BMI over 37 would mean that you would be lucky to be insured – as well as a whole host of other little things that will vary from person to person, but you’ll definitely notice!
This is huge. Since starting the diet, I have moved out of the flat I was living in. During the move in, I was a sweaty mess by the time we were half-way done – on the way out I at least got though all the moving before ending up a sweaty mess – which is an improvement if nothing else. I bound up the stairs in work now, the fact that they used to leave me panting seems so unusual to me. For years I have suffered from insomnia, and although I still do struggle to sleep, the weightloss means that I can deal with it far more adequately the next day – no more fighting to stay awake in work.
This isn’t really surprising if you think about it though – find something that weighs 14 pounds, then imagine losing almost five of them off your body. It’s terrifying to think that I used to carry that around with me, and when I consider how much easier day-to-day life is now, I can’t believe I didn’t take the plunge sooner.
Now, don’t get me wrong, dieting isn’t always easy:- it takes willpower, and if it weren’t for the fact that I genuinely hated myself for a few months I think I would have struggled far more than I did. Determination and will to do it are so important, but if you really want to do it, you can – I’m living proof of that.
Chris is a writer for moneysupermarket.com, specializing in life insurance and the benefits that getting in shape can have – he knows because he’s done it himself!