I feel like this is one of the hardest things to write about without offending someone. So firstly:
1. I know I'm not fat, but I'm currently trying to lose weight.
2. I don't think a person should be defined by their size or shape.
3. I really don't care about anyone's opinions of what I look like.
I find talking about weight or size really problematic, as there are so many opinions out there and most of them exist to shame people in to feeling inadequate, which is not the point of this, but to an extent I think it my be inevitable. If I end up making you feel bad then I'm sorry, it's really not my intention and please let me know, and I'll edit the bit that I've got wrong.
I have a funny shape, I'm a very large man, six foot five and quite broad shoulders, and due to some breathing exercises I was made to perform when I was a choirboy, my lower ribs stick out a little bit. This means I always look like I have a bit of a belly as the lower portion of my top half sticks out more than my chest (excuse the descriptions, biology was never my strong subject at school). Now I don't care about any of this, nor am I looking for compliments. This is how my body is and I love it.
In 2010 when I had some medical tests, a doctor told me I was borderline obese. There is no way in the world I was close to being obese. I really feel like all the "ideal weight" and body mass charts are just so wrong. They seem to fail to factor in so many things. Again, I wasn't bothered by this, but I know a lot of people who would have been upset about this.
I guess I talk about stigmas quite a lot, but there really is a stigma around people who would be described as obese or fat. They're considered lazy and described by all manor of horrible terms. Now (and this is another thing that's going to come up a lot in this blog), I used to be someone who would constantly pass comment about peoples size. I'd always make jokes at my friends who were bigger and talk about those I didn't know so well behind there backs. You'd hear me say things like, "they could do with a salad." etc etc. Basically, I was a dick. This all came about in my teenage years being at a boys school where "banter" was encouraged, and the bigger boys definitely got a lot of stick. Now, there was no real maliciousness to this. A lot of those boys were, and still are, good friends of mine and simply because I ate so much (but was a stick-thin-rake as a teenager) I used to get called ‘fat boy’. I don't believe that anyone of us really believed that we were better than someone because we weren't overweight; it was just what boys did. I knew that some of the people that were overweight had no control over that due to medical reasons, so I never accepted the lazy or useless stereotype, but I did seem to get off from giving people a little bit of grief about it.
Was it right? No, and no doubt some of those guys may have ended up being a little scarred by all of that "banter" (it definitely would have gone too far at some points). One of the guys who I used to pick on, who was the drummer in one of my first bands, is now the fittest guy I know. He does triathlons every weekend, and I'm pretty sure it's not because we used to pick on him, like Forrest Gump, he just loves running. Another guy who I'm still friends with went on to study sports science at university and is now a personal trainer. Although these two are doing great despite all the abuse we gave them, I've come to realise over the last five years that there are a lot of people who have an uncomfortable relationship with food. I guess this goes back to my post on mental health from a few weeks ago.By the way, I've reached my £1000 target for my 10 hour charity gig for Mind - The Mental Health Charity on 14 October. I'm hoping to now double that! Might be ambitious, but why not go for it? You can donate here by clicking here.
Now I've tried to adjust my behaviour but for some reason, out of all the bad habits I had after leaving school, this one was the hardest to drop. I'm not sure if it's because I felt it was the most innocent of my sins, but I continued to give my close friends a hard time if they were a bit overweight. I knew I had to stop it and in the end I made a deal with one of my closest friends, with whom I would say something to almost on a daily basis, that I'd give him a pound each time I made a joke at his expense about his weight. Amazingly, it worked, and I think I only ever had to give him £1. Easily one of the best things I ever did, I don't even have to try and suppress myself anymore; I've eradicated that behaviour from my brain.
I like having a bit of fun with my friends, be it at their expense or mine, but I'd rather that be about the silly things we do or say, rather than something superficial like, how much they weigh etc etc. There's a lot of people who go on about how annoying it is to be politically correct, and how it's ruining things. I disagree. So much fun can still be had, you just don't have to be a dick about it (in my case, my friends probably still think I'm being a dick, but that's another story).
Within our society we're surrounded by images of "perfection", and I've always known it to be bullshit, but it clearly affects others where it didn't affect me, and I really do believe that a lot of the issues we have with mental health of young people is down to the fact that many feel insecure and struggle to accept themselves for how they look, which ends up with them chasing a look which despite their best efforts, they'll never achieve, for instance body dysmorphia which can lead to serious eating disorders. I'm sure I'll talk again about this in more detail, as there are more factors to it, and I wanted to focus this purely on shape and size.
So, why am I actively trying to lose weight? Why do I feel the need to do this?
It's not because I don't like how I look. It's not because I don't feel confident or that I feel self conscious.
Over the last couple of years, I've definitely put weight on. I love food and drink, and I especially like all the stuff that I really shouldn't and often eat lots of it at the worst times (after a gig, or just before bed etc.). I used to be able to eat everything and it never seemed to show up on my body, but as I've got older, my metabolism has clearly slowed down. I hide this extra weight relatively well because of my frame, but there is definitely a big rubber ring around my midsection and a few other flabby bits that I've noticed. Where I really notice it is that a lot of my clothes have become tighter and feel uncomfortable to wear. So there is my first reason to lose weight, is simple that I can't afford a new wardrobe. I'd like all the clothes that used to be comfortable, to be comfortable again.
Secondly, as part of my job I have to carry a lot of heavy equipment, sometimes up stairs and across distances. Over the last couple of years, I've noticed that I seem to be getting breathless a lot easier, and sometimes I've even been wheezing. I used to love playing sport, but I stopped once I started being a musician full time, simply because I feared getting an injury that would stop me being able to work (a self employed person’s nightmare as we don't get sick pay). This lack of fitness is bothering me, and I feel that it must also be hindering some of my performances. So I want to be a bit fitter. I want to be about to get through an energetic gig with my wedding band or with For Apollo and not take three days for my body to recover.
Finally, I really like running around with my nephews, and as they get bigger, I want to be able to enjoy that more, and they're going to start running a lot further and being a lot more active soon. So I want to be able to keep up if possible.
So for a little while I’ve not been eating chocolate or sweets, fast food, fizzy drinks, alcohol, and I’ve massively cut back on carbs (no bread or pasta; but I'm still having a bowl of porridge every morning) and I’ve stopped eating after gigs. I may give myself the odd reward, but not often.
I don't own any weighing scales. I don't know how much I weigh, and I'm not bothered about how much I weigh after this, I find those numbers to be pointless, but then again, if you're someone who wants to lose weight but needs a number to focus on, then by all means, do it. From what I see though, this way of doing things seems to leave people disappointed someway, or they end up taking it too far and getting ill - it's a fine line I guess.
I'm not trying to look like someone from the film ‘300’, I don't care for abs or toned muscles. Some do, and good luck to them, but to me it seems like a lot of work for something that really doesn't mean that much. I will stop my little diet once my old clothes fit comfortably again, but I will try and continue with my little runs every now and then to keep my fitness up. I may even try and play tennis with friends once in a while. No doubt I will start eating like I was before, I don't want to stop eating or drinking the things that I like. Perhaps I'll try and slim down the portions a little bit though. I guess moderation is the key for me.
My logic is that something has to kill me, and as a result I'll always do something if I enjoy it, even if there are health risks. I don't like smoking, so I don't do it. It's not because I'm worried about it killing me that I don't do it. I just don't enjoy it!
Life is there to be enjoyed, and I need to shift a little bit of weight simply so that I can enjoy all the things I love to their fullest. Other people have different priorities, and if they choose to be big, then good for them! If they choose to be super fit and healthy then that's great too.
Plus, touring can be hard work and strenuous and I have a tour coming up (check out the dates, it would be great to see you), and I want to get through it without it hurting.
I've probably rambled on, but if you've reached this far then I'm impressed.
I hope you're well, and I hope that you love yourself no matter what your shape and size.