17 Jun 2013

Untimely death, The Consolations of Philosophy and Suli Breaks!

Happy fat bloke - simple right?
Well here I go again, setting sail yet again in the good ship HMS FatBloke on a depressingly familiar course to that most obscure and difficult to locate destination… Weight-Loss Island!

First the bare facts – as of this morning I weigh a whopping 283.8lbs. Not quite enough to require assistance with wiping my arse but not that far off that I shouldn’t consider stocking up with these pretty soon.

280lbs is my usual ‘get a grip’ tipping point (being 20 stones in old money) – back in Nov 2010 I weighed 238.8lbs so I have put around 45lbs back on in around 30 months. That’s 1.5lbs per month – that’s a biscuit a day… Just typing this makes my frustration so much rawer.

I have been here many times before so why now then, what’s changed? Well, I hope you’re sitting comfortably….as this is how my planets have aligned.

W A K E - U P  C A L L !

To begin with, I can trace it back to the morning of the 15th May 2013. I had a very big wake up call. My 52 year old next door neighbour literally dropped dead without any obvious cause. I regret that I didn’t have the chance to become his friend but when death passes so close to you, you can’t help but consider your own state of affairs. His funeral was an intense experience and made me think long and hard about where I was heading (I’ll give you a clue… it rhymes with ‘Mohair blast!).

Now, tragic though his death is, death is not unknown to me and I have not been moved to re-evaluate my life in this way before so what else is going on you may wonder?

W I S D O M !

Can't be hard to find, right?
Before we go on, here’s a question for you… ‘Am I frustrated because I am fat or am I fat because I am frustrated?’ Pretty deep eh? Keep hold of that one for a while.

I have long believed in the connection between happiness and healthiness. The more I learn, the more I believe that to lose weight, first I must be happy. Being thin will NOT make me happier but being happier JUST might help me to get thin!

OK, let’s go back to the very beginning. What is happiness anyway?

This is a fairly reasonable definition that should be recognizable to most people…

So, I want to have a ‘state of wellbeing’. Where to start? The Dala Lama laughs A LOT so I guess he must be fairly happy. Looks like Buddhism is the right one for me so I have got that part right at least! Even with the mighty Buddha, I still can’t help thinking I need a bit more horsepower on my side… where shall I turn?

Step forward Mr Alain De Botton (crazy name, crazy guy!) – I have owned his book ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ for well over 10 years and only now did I pick it up and in a beautiful moment of sycronicity, start reading it just when I needed it. Packed with profundity, it is a superb and accessible examination of philosophy (from Socrates and Seneca through to Schopenhauer and Nietzsche). Its power lies in his ability to examine the problems of modern life through the wisdom and knowledge of both ancient and more modern philosophical works. Boom!

The book provides assistance with some of the deepest and most profound barriers to happiness through the timeless wisdom of philosophers. Whilst reading the book, I instantly recognized myself in the pages. Chapters on Unpopularity, Poverty, Frustration, Inadequacy, Timidity etc all resonate with me to a greater or lesser extent. This is my road map.

For those of you in the UK, Channel 4 made a TV series from the book and it can be viewed here.

I believe that the stuff in this book is so important to getting my head straight that I plan to deal with each chapter in a separate post as I work my way through the book. If I can help one person to short cut the very long road to happiness that I have taken then it is worth doing.

So, I think that I now have all the horsepower I need in the wisdom engine! What’s missing still?

I N S P I R A T I O N!
It was my birthday on the 14th June (Happy B-day to me…etc) and way back in March this year I bought 2 tickets to the TEDxHouses of Parliament event to be held on that day.
Whilst we were at the after show reception we got chatting with the lovely James Jospeh and Harriet Bowe and one of them asked me why I had come to what was my first TED event. I had a very simple answer – I ‘Googled’ London and the date of my birthday and guess what came up…. It just goes to show that you can find inspiration in the wierdest ways!

I didn't expect a great deal from the day but I have never been more wrong. It was a fascinating day of ideas the like of which I have never expereienced before. I met a lot of really interesing and inspiring people along the way as well.

The day began with me meeting a wonderful lady called Julie Kertesz who bowled up to me outside the QEII centre and very charmingly questioned me about who we were and why we were there.. she turned out to be a fascinating 79 year old photographer, storyteller and stand up comedian (amoungst other things!). We will meet again I am sure!

She's the one with the handbag..oh, wait...

TEDxHousesOfParliament 2013 was held to share "ideas worth spreading" on the theme of Representation and Democracy. Doesn’t sound very inspiring does it? Well, prepare to be as wrong as me ….

One of the speakers turned out to be Suli Breaks – a person I confess I had never heard of before that day. Watch this video….. the room almost came down after this was shown! Aweseome (in the true sense of the word for a change).

Suli has a voice that I found very hard not to listen to (I don’t mean the sounds he makes but the words and concepts he uses).

Inspiring though this film was, this wasn't what gave me the final kick I needed to get back on the road to happiness and weightloss. I decided to look him up on twitter to thank him for the inspiring film and the chat we had afterwards. Then the inspiration arrived!

'If you came here looking for enlightment, you came to the wrong place. Go look in a mirror. '

This was a very timely reminder of what is written at the top of this blog... this is in my hands, no one elses. I need to get the wisdom, get the knowledge, put the effort in and find happiness NOW! From happiness will come weightloss as sure as day comes after night.
I'm the one with the glasses and the poodle on my chin...
I am not an apologist for fat people but I DO know that we are not just gluttons. Some of us eat because we are unhappy and many of us just lack the wisdom to resolve our problems before we can lose weight. We are not lazy, just ignorant of the ways to solve our innermost problems.

Anyway, back to frustration – remember that?

Of all the obstacles in my way, frustration is the most obvious and ever present and I am working on that but for now I will leave you with a quote from my new most favourite philosopher on matters frustrating... Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

‘I do not allow Fortune to pass sentence upon myself’

Nor will I Lucius, nor will I....

4 Jan 2012

Déjà vu...

This is NOT a New Year resolution – REALLY!!

Firstly, let me be clear. I do not ‘do’ New Year resolutions – I hold the opinion that if you are going to do something, then just go ahead and do it! Do you feel differently today than you did last week – better equipped to achieve your goals – somehow more motivated? I don’t think so…. IT’S JUST A DAY!

Adding the pressure of a glossy Sunday Newspaper supplement induced ‘fitness guiltfest’ – lots of pictures of achingly glamorous and toothy fitness freaks jogging up a beach  in the bright sunshine – will not help you to achieve your goals either - FACT.

Having said all that… here we go again (groan..). Let the Groundhog Day begin.

Since my last post so little has happened that I don’t really know where to begin but I’ll give it a go….

My weight is a bit like some of Wall Streets finest investment opportunities – it goes down as well as up! At the moment I am quite happily bucking the planet-wide economic trend as my weight appears to be rising in adverse correlation to the worlds stock markets! Long gone are the heady days of dreaming of 220lbs but hopefully my own personal Wall Street crash is just around the corner…

The last time you heard from me I was 239.8Lbs – today I am a whopping 272.6lbs. Yes, that’s correct – almost exactly back where I started in June 2010... great!

The only possible redeeming feature to this tail of woe is that I now know that I can lose 40Lbs plus in 6 months – I know this for a fact because I have done it! Weight loss is no longer a mystery to me - Shaggy and Scooby can stand down for now. Mystery solved.

So what went wrong then?

When it comes to pressure (both internal and external), I realise that I am a sponge. I soak it up and soak it up with no visible effects (that I am aware of) on my character. I manage the stress levels I encounter from this pressure by self medicating with alcohol and comfort food.

Being overweight is both mentally and physically stressful – however, it is entirely self inflicted and I neither seek nor expect sympathy from anyone. I have the knowledge to understand how I got into this situation and I have the tools to dig myself out. It is time to start digging.

The mental stress from being overweight is probably the more pernicious of the two – it is the very hub of the wheel of self doubt, self pity and comfort consumption that leads to excessive weight gain.

The trigger for this initial pressure can be any significant event in your life – in my case it was overwork towards the end of 2010. The ‘drip-drip’ pressure of my job reached a tsunami in late 2010 / early 2011 – this pushed me so far that I could not sustain the positive mental outlook to continue my weight loss.

I am happy to say that for a number of reasons, I no longer have to endure the stress levels that I experienced this time last year. My head is in a much better place and I really have no reason whatsoever to avoid just getting on with it!

Dear reader, should you be interested, I will be following this highly complex plan:-

         Get the food right!

I will loosely be following the zone diet. It seems to work from me.

         Get the mind right!

The struggle to follow the ways of Buddhism continues…

         Move my fat ar*e!

I have no excuse whatsoever as I have a gym at work and a wife that likes to get the boxing gloves out – ouch! Just get on with it….

 The real key to breaking the destructive wheel of self doubt, self pity and gluttony is in the mind – of that I am sure. I understand what needs to be done – as I knew instinctively when I started this blog, the right mind will ensure the weight comes off. Happiness is not a large glass of red and a family size bag of crisps… it comes from increased mindfulness, respect for myself  and compassion for others. Working on that....

As a permanent reminder to me of the huge task in hand, I look at this many times a day to remind me how far I have to go…

The tattoo is an important symbol of the road I am heading down. The mantra is hard to explain so more of that another day...

I began this blog with a very pompous notion that I had an important narrative to offer all fellow pie-worriers. I have been humbled by the rocky road that I have travelled. - words are cheap and actions are dear indeed. 

I am back on the road though and I will record my thoughts here from time to time for my own enjoyment more than anything – please feel free to comment if you have something interesting/relevant to say but please respect the no advert policy – just saying ‘Cool Blog’ and adding your link to some probably illegal gadget/potion is really quite rude. If you come in peace then you are very welcome to come and sit on my lawn but please respect it as it’s mine not yours. 

Finally, I am not here to buy or sell – there are more than enough people doing that. I am here to find happiness and lose a little weight a long the way.

“Happiness is not something ready made. 
It comes from your own actions.” 
Dalai Lama XIV