Deus ex machina

The New Year is a time for reflection, and a time for goal setting, and usually driven by a desire to increase happiness or achievement in one’s life. I’ve been looking at what I want to achieve for 2016. 

Reflections are important when it comes to transforming your life but so is accountability. I’ve produced this blog both to focus on what I have highlighted is important, what I’m doing about it and ensuring I do it because it’s public. 

So, rather than start on an arbitrary day at the start of the year in order to achieve these resolutions I’ve got my house in order and will start when is convenient for me because the results are what is important not the start date of the journey.

So what are my resolutions this year?

  1. Get back to BJJ
  2. Stop smoking / Pause drinking (for at least 6 months)
  3. Lose weight
  4. Read 12 books
  5. Finish learning to drive

Prom Photo – 2001

Looking back on my childhood I remember being subject to comments about my weight being too big, and being ‘fat’, throughout both Primary and Secondary School. I believe that has had a massive impact on how I conduct myself today but that’s not unique. We are all shaped by both nature and nurture, and it makes us who we are.

Now at 31: I look back at the photos I’ve got from my mid to late teens and they don’t accord with the taunts and jibes I remember. Perhaps that’s because the name-calling and banter was erroneous?

Most children will have puppy fat during primary school, and that’s just natural, but at the height of the taunting I would call myself very lean. I was always a bigger frame than some of the other kids at school but I would never put this down to size or weight. It’s just how I was built and expected to develop with my body structure.

Throughout my high school days I was constantly active, regardless of what I was eating (and kids sometimes have license to eat really poorly because their metabolism and their access to exercise will actively combat the tide of poor meal choices). Over the five years of my secondary education I played Rugby Union usually two or three times a week (be it a match or training) alongside regular Physical Education (P.E) lessons and lunchtime football matches (whether I was good or not).   

College Christmas Party – 2002

Even during college I was still very lean in comparison to my current body composition, which I would presently assess as obese, but my levels of exercise certainly dramatically decreased.

I wasn’t doing the football games in break time, or the P.E lessons, though I did keep up with the Rugby at Under 16’s and into the Colts section.

However my change in physique didn’t really start until I was consuming alcohol regularly and working in my first pub job. Well, duh? Some will say and you’re right. 

There was a period there where I over-ate consistently, as a kind of badge of honour, at work to be able to prove a ‘special skill’ or something that separated me from the rest of my colleagues. Being able to eat 2 meals in one sit in, or the biggest burger on the menu, etc. This saw me reach around 18 or 19 stone. I was working full time (or as close to it) at my second pub and I was doing regular hours with lots of time on my feet.

Before I left to go to University I identified in January 2007 that I wanted to lose weight and had set my target at 12 odd stone, because of a 170lb weight limit, for specific mixed martial arts competition that I wanted to enter. In the end I didn’t compete in the competition, but not because I didn’t achieve the weight but, because I was taken by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I competed in two Bristol Open’s and won Bronze in my second.

So, I was exercising additionally two or three times a week (at peak) both in Stafford and in Birmingham at Gracie Barra Birmingham and lose the weight I did: I dropped from around 18 stone (age 22) down to high end of 13st when I enrolled at Newman.

Freshers Week – 2007

However through my own actions and interests I lost touch with myself and developed a despicable attitude where I thought it was acceptable to continue to load my body with crap because I was ‘training regularly’ enough. I would think:

It’s OK. I’ll burn it off when I go to training later.

First Year – 2007

In my first year of Uni I trained two or three times a week both in Jiu-Jitsu and in Rugby. I was getting lots of exercise but bad habits crept in and blame was apportioned in places other than where they should have laid: with me. A year later I took a greater role within my union, which is another reflection of where I feel the problems began.

I created a life-style for myself where convenience was king and that I wanted to do everything in the quickest easiest way to create additional time for myself to focus on the union. In the end it was a double-edged sword because for every bit of passion I put into the role I gained at least 2lbs of weight and left University around 5 stone heavier.

Every time I brought success to the table I was also bringing a diet of disaster with bad habits that subsequently knocked onto my health, lifestyle and relationships.

Six years on I believe that I am now in a good position to analyse and comment on the process that got me there the first time round in an attempt to make the steps understandable a second time round as I look to lose the weight that symbolises my unhealthy commitment to an organisation that did not deserve the level of my contribution.

I am now three weeks into living my new lifestyle where I am putting me first. I can’t do things for others if I continue on  my previous path. I have not had an alcoholic drink since January 11th, and I stopped smoking soon after then, and have changed my nutrition plan. I am eating more salads, fruit, cereals, jacket potatoes and drinking more water daily. I signed up to a new Gym and have been going regularly and have got back into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, training with Fighting Fit in Stafford.

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