Written by Christopher Davies
Yes - that was me back in May 2005 at the ripe old age of 24. I was a holiday rep in what would turn out to be my final year. Living it up in Majorca and had just come home from a beach party! At that point I never struggled with my weight. It had in fact dropped over the heatwave during the summer of 2003 to a slightly concerning 10.5 stone. It's amazing what walking 4-5 miles a day in 40c does!
Back to 2005 though, I fell in love and decided to try the adult thing and come back to the UK and get a "proper" job. I had no idea what I wanted that to be so I settled for going into a travel agents. This lasted for 18 months or so before I tried the desk job. The weight was slowly starting its upwards creep here. I remember trying the cereal diet and living on bowls of cereal all day for a while. I joined a gym with my then partner but barely went. Neither of us did. He had a good job so we got into the usual pattern: we worked during the week, then spent most Friday nights downing a couple of bottles of wine, a takeaway and our favourite film. Occasionally it would be a meal out instead or even a weekend away, but it always involved a lot of food.
I lived out of the freezer. You see, he was allergic to lactose and eggs as well as being vegetarian by choice. A certain Q vegetarian brand and other processed foods became my go-to. My idea of cooking was something from a packet or a jar, put together with my rice, pasta, or potatoes. Pasta bakes and pizzas especially were my go-to.
The waist was getting bigger and bigger. By the time I reached August 2008, my waist had reached 36" and I was 14st 8lbs. I remember this as that was when I left the desk job and started my first stint on rails. I was going to be on my feet again. That was going to help, surely!
November 2008: A moody me poses with the Sphinx in Egypt. In all the photos of that holiday all I can think is I look like a pregnant woman as I have a big round belly by now. You see, working around food has not turned out to be good. I can snack when I want. Not only that, rather than carry my food with me, most of my layovers were at Birmingham new street which had no shortage of decent places (or so I thought then) to eat at. There or in the bullring upstairs.
I'm getting back issues. During my first year on rails, the company I worked for phased out buffets cars and went trolley only. They were horrendously designed things that would weigh over 20st fully loaded. A whiplash injury from a previous car crash started recurring at least twice a year. I'll come back to this one later.
Skip to 2010. It's about now my weight is over 15st. I'm up into 38" trousers. I know I need to do something. But every time I say something I'm met with choruses of:
"You are no way that heavy" and/or "But you carry it well."
That would be followed by something along lines of:
"You're not THAT unfit, you pull that trolley all day."
My partner has also put weight on too. He'd actually done it once before and lost it before we met, and was getting incredibly self conscious about it. Action was to be taken. Drastic action. We started a meal replacement diet that I will simply refer to as C.
I still remember my first day on the C diet. The questions. The people saying you'll put it all back on at the end. My response was that I was going to be different. After all, once the weight was off all I had to do was eat sensible and it would stay off, right?
I did a shift at work, I was starving, kept telling myself it would pass in a day or two. Working with food and drink is horrendous on a diet like that. You want to eat everything. I finished my shift and was walking to the car, talking to a girl about this diet I was doing. I broke wind and followed through. The diet girl hadn't warned me that could happen. I was mortified. I still remember how crap I felt driving home sat on a bin bag my female colleague gave me to sit on.
I persevered, the ketosis came as promised and the weight started falling off. I got to the end of the week. I deserved a reward right? One takeaway and a bottle won't hurt? That set my cycle up for the next few weeks. After about 6 weeks I'd dropped 1st! Great, I was back where I was at joining railway and into my old skinny uniforms. That will do for me. Again, it never stuck.
Jump forward to the start of 2013. I'm back to the high 15st somethings. It's just continued creeping up. I think again I need to try something. Everyone at work is on about some TV show and this style of dieting where you fast for 2 days a week. That sounds doable! So I got to work, armed with a big bag of carrot sticks and nothing else, before coming home to a big bowl of chilli. It's working. The weight is starting to come off slowly. I can live with that. I'll make this my new way of living. It almost stuck.
February 27th. I get a phone call - my mum is seriously ill. To give context, my mum had dealt with multiple sclerosis my whole life. But she was a brilliant mum and had always been a great friend to me, especially as an adult. Six hours after I got that call, she passed.
I was destroyed. It hadn't occurred to me this could happen. I was only 32 and she 58. I never got to say goodbye, it happened so fast.
All thoughts of dieting were gone. I don't remember a lot of that year tbh as I drank my way through a large part of it. Along with some help from Mr's Mirtazapine and Citalopram.
End of July 2013: my partner has taken me away to Egypt for a break. It was nice. I came off the tablets. I didn't drink, mainly because I couldn't get drinks I liked. I agreed to seek proper counselling when we got back home.
A few months pass and I manage to get some normality back and start living again. All thoughts of dieting or my weight are forgotten.
At the start of 2014, we try the C diet again. I didn't even last a week. I can't stand those vile sachets of so called soup or meals etc. I'll worry about my weight another time.
A couple of months later I'm at work and the trolley is horrendous. I'm talking a bad supermarket trolley bad, pulling constantly to one side. Moving that down a moving train fully loaded was not going to happen, so I ring for a new one. While I'm re-loading the new one, I breathe in and get a sharp shooting pain across my chest. Every time I breathe in I get this pain. I ring for help off the other crew. By the time they get to me, I'm in a panic on the floor, struggling to breathe as every time I try to take a breathe the pain is horrendous.
I'm taken off my train and rushed to hospital. There was some unusual activity when I was first hooked up to the machines but it settled down and the pain had eased during the ambulance ride. I was kept all day to make sure it wasn't a heart attack. It wasn't.
I'm referred for further tests though. Work don't want me back until I'm fit and not going to delay trains after all. Nothing was found. the conclusion drawn was that I'd pulled muscles trying to drag the dodgy trolley.
On my return to work, I'm referred to occupational health. My job's in danger now because of how much I'd been off. She's not particularly nice this woman at all - she actually grabbed my flabby stomach and said to me: "Have you ever heard of a six pack?"
Looking back, I know her aim was to shock me into doing something. My weight was aggravating my back issues after all. But I left that office that day unrepentant and full of anger.
Grand Canyon, 2014: During that trip to America, I had decided why bother lose weight. I'm skinny compared to most of the people here. Plus they have the most amazing food. If only I'd realised then it's because they pump almost everything full of sugar! Doh.
Skip forward to late 2016: I've been off the railway almost 18 months. I'm back in travel agents. My weight was in the low 16 stones area and my waist was 40". We're both bigger than ever and decide we need to take action. We decide to try another VLCD and pick LL. This is much nicer than the C one we had done. I got results. This time I managed to get into the high 14st somethings. I lasted a couple of months on it before the novelty wore off and I got bored. Again I tell myself I've done well, it'll do, I won't let my weight go back up and I'll behave this time. It didn't stick, yet again.
Start of 2018: I'd been with Daniel for a few months now. Meal planning is his big thing. Daniel is a great cook and very good at meal planning, but his portions were huge and to be honest I didn't always like what he makes. Daniel has been trying to get us to eat well the whole time we have been together. True, we both like our food, but through various means he's always been trying to get better and healthier food in our diet.
He didn't have an easy job as I was an incredibly fussy eater. When it came to meat, if it wasn't minced or a chicken breast, I wouldn't eat it. I've always had this thing about textures of food and that counts me off a lot of meat. Yes I loved my veg but even then there was lots of them that I wouldn't eat.
Summer 2018: I'm back on the trains again! But I'm back around food all the time now, as well as the shifts. Daniel tries to meal prep but if I don't like what he's made then I just don't take it and buy at Edinburgh where again, there's plenty of choice. I actually manage to drop a bit here, not sure how, but it didn't stick.
Summer 2019: I'm in the high 16st still. I get out of breath easily going up hills and stairs. I sweat like a horrid beast at work especially on our old intercity 125s at work, but at least this is our last summer on them. We will have the nice new trains with better air con next summer. That's the problem after all, not my weight. In the meantime, Daniel is off work with a bad back. It's the second time while I've known him. He's become obsessed with finding ways to lose weight and he keeps going on about keto.
What's he cooking? To sum it up, it's meat and eggs. Always fried. The house stinks like a greasy spoon. Thankfully, he doesn't seem to stick with it.
But he's obsessed with YouTube videos about it and I start to see the same face on our TV screen a lot. This guy called Mark who's down near Leicester. He's then always watching Facebook lives of them. "Will you put your bloody headphones in, I don't want to listen to that" became the most used phrase in our house. Cut to Christmas 2019 and Daniel tells me he's bought us both a present. It's a diet plan for us for 2020. He calls that a present. I'm insulted. I seem to recall telling him where to stick it.
Come the new year, these books appear and he appears to be actually eating some nice food. He says one night he's going to make me a pizza. Sure enough, this gorgeous pepperoni pizza appears and I wolf it down. It's bloody gorgeous. Also these little kilner jar cheesecakes he's making!
He's away to Newcastle at the end of the month to meet these guys. I won't lie, I laugh and accused it of being a cult. Am I going? No way, there's a work night out and I want to go get trashed with my friends! He won't let it drop though so I say I'll think about giving it a go after our break to Gran Canaria at the start of February.
I got home and stood on my scales. I am 17st 2lbs. The heaviest I've ever been. That seals it. I've got to try something so why not this thing he's pushing. He's done the shopping and planned the meals. I was given this keto cookbook and a list of recipes I need to meal prep. I did it, and at the end of it I make my first ever fathead pizza as my reward.
I was still very much 3 meals a day at the start, plus I had to have small pots of nuts to snack on. But somewhere along the line, that started to change. I'm not actually sure when.
We went away to London for a weekend at the end of February. Turns out it was an excuse for Daniel to get me to a workshop, same as he'd gone to in Newcastle. I didn't know what I was walking into. But the information I got was eye opening. By this point, the weight was coming off at a steady rate. It was also something we could both do that fitted around our shifts. I suddenly became enthusiastic about it and I think that was mainly down to two things: I wasn't hungry all the time, and I was eating great food.
Then the world changed. I was stood down from work as hospitality was not deemed essential thanks to this new COVID-19 pandemic. Days later, the national lockdown was called. This resulted in Daniel being stood down too. We were both at a loss for what to do. We joined in with a zoom on Keto Fitness Club and met some of the people who we'd been exchanging comments with on the Facebook groups albeit through a screen.
Out of nowhere, we had acquired this group who we could talk about anything with and we often did. It gave our weeks some direction as we went by what zooms were what day, as the lockdown seemed to go on forever.
We made friendships, some of whom will be lifelong that we are sure of. We even planned an entire weeks holiday to travel around the country and see these new friends and we had a fantastic week.
We were privileged enough to be asked to come onboard as ambassadors and help Mark & Ella spread the work of keto across the country. While still a bit unsure as to how I can help, I'm slowly working it out and it's kind of why I've written this.
So, here we both are at the back end of the year. Almost 6 stone lighter between us both. We're both exercising more than we ever have and since the gyms have reopened I've managed to incorporate that into my routine as well. Not only that, but I'm bloody enjoying it too!
I've still got a stone to go to hit my target but I'm a bit more relaxed about it now as I know it'll come in time. I don't know what else is in my future but when it comes to finding keto and Keto Fitness Club, there's one thing I can say... it stuck!