The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Losing a Hundredweight

When the emotions plummet, when that huge void in your chest threatens to drag you down to the deepest of depths, when the feelings are just too big to deal with, what do you do to ease the pain?

For some it's time to get drunk, or get high, or do extreme levels of exercise, or shop, gamble, or self harm in a multitude of different ways.

But for me, once I gave up the experimentations and addictions of various drugs in my youth, food became my primary self-medication of choice.

Food is an easy choice: particular combinations of fat, sugar and salt trigger all sorts of happy chemicals in the brain; sweet things especially are often linked to notions of reward that were embedded in childhood; not to mention the links with celebrations; and of course it's easily found, and it tastes so good.

And when the hollow void is there, if you stuff enough food down your throat, for a brief moment at least, it plugs the entrance to the feelings of a cavernous emptiness within.

Unfortunately there are less desirable side effects of over consuming food:

1) if you get the sugar high, you can be assured of the sugar slump afterwards, which can end up making you feel even worse
2) over eating is not good for your body either, and sustained over a long period of time can seriously effect your health
3) you start putting on weight, which leads to other people judging you harshly, which makes you feel even worse about yourself, which makes the void open up again, which can only be stopped by plugging it with more food – and so the vicious cycle grows

For me, this lead to the point where by the time I was in my mid to late 30s, I weighed 19 stone 9 pounds (275lbs or 125kg)

A little over 15 years ago, with considerable help from my wife, I set about changing how I ate – as best as possible, focusing on the idea of eating healthily, where weight loss became a beneficial side effect.

A few months in and the pounds started noticeably coming off and I set up a blog called "Losing a Hundredweight" to start tracking my progress.

The idea for the name came from the fact that for my height, if I was to ever get down to something approaching a proper BMI (which is about your height-weight ratio), then I would have to lose over 8 stone from my starting point.

8 stone is 112 pounds, which is a hundredweight in old money, or 5% of one ton.

It seemed like such an unlikely possibility that using it in the title of the blog was being ironic. I never believed it was actually possible.

However, at one point, about 10 years ago, I almost got there. I was literally less than one pound away, but it was a bit of a blip and then the weight started edging back up again.

Over a couple of years I went up to 14 stone, then came back down to around 13 and a bit, where I hovered for the best part of 6 years.

2 years ago I came down a stone and have since hovered around 12st 4lbs, give or take 5lbs.

But now, during isolation because of Covid-19, the weight has started dropping again. A combination of not being able to go for hot chocolates with clients at In House Chocolates, nor being able to eat too much bread from Earth's Crust Bakery, and the fact we deliberately didn't restock the store cupboards with sweet treats before we went into Lockdown (to completely disable my ability to self medicate that way), has had an effect.

And when the tension and mental overdrive of putting these podcasts together is thrown in, I've been burning up more than I've been consuming.

This morning, when I weighed myself, I was surprised to see I'm now 11 stone 7.6 pounds (161.6lbs or 73.3kg).

I have crossed that hundredweight barrier, 15 years after I started this journey, and 10 years after I almost got there.

But I think what's really surprised me is the lack of elation.

For sure, I can find a certain level of quiet satisfaction, but not the air-punching, happy-dancing, whooping-with-joy I might have expected.

Perhaps if I had hit this threshold 10 years ago, that would have been the time for celebration, because then it was still something I was aiming for.

However, for the last several years I've been relatively content with my weight. Yes I've still been officially overweight for my height, but compared with where I used to be, it's felt so much less important.

The weight loss, and the eventual achievement of losing more than 112 pounds really has been a side effect of a lifestyle change, and not a permanent struggle to try and attain the seemingly impossible.

And if I lose another 3.6 pounds I will actually cross the barrier into a "normal" weight for my size and build. I will no longer be officially "overweight" for the first time since I was probably a teenager.

But if that happens, I won't be feeling the need to celebrate with a large chocolate cake...

38 years old and over 19½ stone, vs 53 years old and 11½ stone


Eryl said...

Interesting that lockdown has been the cause of those final few pounds coming off, so many people are saying they're putting on weight because being at home all the time is making them eat more than usual.

Kim Ayres said...

Eryl - I completely get it. I put on the inevitable half a stone or so over Xmas, which I nearly always do, and then it usually takes a few months before we can get back into a proper eating regime and the weight comes back and stablises.
I count myself as extremely fortunate that this time we got back to the healthier eating system about 4 weeks before Lockdown, so it was established by then.
If it hadn't've been, given the extreme moods I had to deal with, especially in the first few weeks of it, there is no way I would have been able to get the eating under control.
I would have just been diving into all the sweet and unhealthy stuff to try and salve the stress, which in turn would have exacerbated the cycle.
I totally and utterly understand how so many people will end up a great deal heavier by the time we get past this.

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