January 16, 2014

Letter from the editor (17 January 2014): M’obesity, Mo’ problems

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/health/obesity-awareness/

We’ve published a series of articles on the Knowledge Centre this week on obesity, diabetes and how we all play a part in a society that is becoming more and more obese. I have always struggled with my weight. As a child, I would often be described as ‘big boned’, chubby or stout but the truth was I was fat and I did little about it. By the time I reached my late-20s I weighed over 24 stone, squeezed my legs into 44 inch waist trousers and pulled XXL t-shirts over my head. Needless to say, when it comes to my weight, I’ve got more baggage than Heathrow and these pieces brought back some uncomfortable memories of who I used to be, what I used to eat and how sedentary a life I used to lead.

At that size you have a choice. You can embrace what you’ve become, ignore the looks of disdain from passers-by as you waddle down the street and continue down a path to even more morbid obesity (but, as the kids would say, m’obesity, mo’ problems) and, if you have any ambition left, at best, you can hope to become Britain’s fattest man/woman or a contender on the Biggest Loser. Alternatively, you can try and pick yourself up – mentally as well as physically – and have the ambition to just be healthy. Choosing the latter isn’t easy but you’ll, hopefully, be glad to learn it’s the option I’ve been pursuing and one I heartily recommend.

The truth is, and I’m not sure all large people feel this way but it certainly was true for me, being obese is lonely. We might act like the jolly fat guy but a love of cake is nothing compared to the love of another human being. Pizza cannot hug you and waking up next to an empty box of doughnuts does not elicit the same feelings that you get when you’re in a relationship with a person and not food. Like I said; a lot of baggage!

There was a moment when I caught sight of my reflection in the kitchen glass door and it was the moment I knew my life had to change. I’d just pulled a batch of freshly baked brownies out of the oven and I couldn’t even wait for them to cool down before having “a little taste”. As I looked up I saw this huge guy, whose reflection took up most of the doorway, shovelling still steaming cake into his mouth. Who was this guy? In my mind’s eye this wasn’t what I looked like but this is what other people saw when they met me; this was the real me; overweight, unhappy and lonely.

Gareth Jenkins obese man

It’s been five years since the above picture was taken (not long before that reflective moment) and in that time I made an effort to turn my life around. I’ve kept a varied exercise regime to help change my life – rambling, gym sessions and using the large selection of exercise DVDs I'd bought years before. I even gave Zumba a go for a year. Now, I work out five times a week, walk the three miles to and from work each day and walk the family dog at weekends. I jumped on the scales this morning to see what I was down to. At 18 stone it’s still not where I’d like to be but I’d like to think I’ve got the direction of travel right. The memories of who I used to be might be uncomfortable but they’re also a great motivator to help me live a healthier and more enjoyable life.

Gareth Jenkins, Editor.

Ps. Here’s a more recent photo from this afternoon.


What I’m reading this week

Seeking Clues to Obesity in Rare Hunger Disorder
The New York Times
Lisa Tremblay still recalls in horror the time her daughter Kristin pulled a hot dog crawling with ants from the garbage at a cookout and prepared to swallow it.

The mega-city no one has heard of
Al Jazeera
Hanzhong, China - With four million people, Hanzhong's population is the rough equivalent of Los Angeles yet outside of China, almost no one has heard of it.

Even within the world's most populous country, the city is hardly well-known, its existence usually qualified with the sentence: "It's a few hours away from Xian."

Man Sues Toothpaste Maker Because He's Never Attracted A Woman Like Their Ads Promised
The headline says it all.

Costing secrecy
Vox, Professor Mark Harrison
“Democracy often seems bureaucratic with high ‘transaction costs’, while autocracies seem to get things done at lower cost. This column discusses historical research that refutes this. It finds empirical support from Soviet archives for a political security/usability trade-off. Regimes that are secure from public scrutiny tend to be more costly to operate.”

Mark’s written a follow up blog as well.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Jaine Fleetwood

    And you are looking quite fabulous Mr Jenkins!
    Thanks for the hard work on the Obesity articles, we really appreciate your efforts,

    16 Jan 2014, 14:54

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