As I sit here and write, I am a 46-year-old man with a birthday coming up in a few months. I have suffered from depression and anxiety. The severe last bout has lasted a few years. One of the consequences of the last episode is that I have become aware of something that had been lurking in the basement. I had a monster hiding out down there. This monster didn’t do much. About all it did was speak to my inner critic regularly. This monster, if I were to give it a name, would be called Fatso. Fatso would tell my inner critic lots of stuff about how it viewed my body. My inner critic would be oh so happy to pass the information on to my conscious brain. It would rant comments like “would you look at that huge stomach!” “haha look at all our chins! They are hideous.” Can you believe how fat this pathetic body is”? Over and over I would get told how fat I was.
Growing up I was considered the chubby one, well I thought of myself as the chubby one anyway. My younger brother was always skinny. I remember seeing a photo of me as an early teen bowling a cricket ball without a shirt on. I’m pretty sure that I never took my shirt off in public after seeing that photo. I was disgusted with myself. I’m pretty sure that’s when my view of my body split from the reality. For over 30 years, the monster has lurked in the basement…speaking hate and lies (not that I can call them lies yet) into my life.
At the beginning of 2018, after a couple of weeks of holidays, I got back to the gym. Jumped on the scales to see the damage that I had caused and I felt my brain disconnect from reality. I weighed in over 95 kilograms. The heaviest I had ever been and was officially closer to 100kg’s than 90kg’s. I couldn’t process it. But the monster…the monster was laughing like a maniac in the basement of my psyche. It was like it had finally won. It had achieved its goal. To drive me to the point of madness.
As I tried to connect my brain to what I saw on the scales, the monster was let loose. Up it came from the basement in all its filth. It’s voice becoming louder and louder every moment. Hey fatso…what are you gonna do now? Gonna see if you can crack the good ol’ century mark? Why don’t we go and get a burger from Macca’s to celebrate! No need to try at the gym anymore is there? You failure. You poor fat, ugly, hopeless failure. Might as well give up this whole fitness thing right now and accept your fate. Fatguts Horton. That’s who you are.
So began a new battle. A battle that had been brewing for three decades. A battle between a fat little kid and Fatso the monster.
Some people would call it a form of anorexia. Others would call it an excuse for being lazy. I call it a fight to the death. Either the monster was going to win or the fat kid.
So I did what I always seem to have to do. I pulled myself up by my shoelaces and started to plan my attack. How was I going to get the fat kid to beat the monster?
The gym was part of it. Maybe playing hockey could be part of it too. Seeing a dietitian was the key though. It was the masterstroke to beat this roaring beast which sought to destroy me. I followed the dietician's advice. Began having two meal replacement shakes per day. I stopped pretty much all carbs and processed sugars. Even stopped eating fruit and some vegetables. I existed on meat, carrots (LOTS of carrots), tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and celery. At the gym ramped up my intensity. Started to play hockey. Mind you it was only as a goalkeeper so I could skip the whole running thing. Somehow I managed to end up coaching two junior teams as well. All of this has meant that ended going from 95kgs down to a current lowest of around 77kgs. My goal was 77kgs. I have plateaued at about 78, but that’s ok. I’ll hit it again sometime soon and drop the last couple of kgs so I can get back to a life without meal replacement shakes. What I weigh isn’t the problem.
The problem is that the monster isn’t dead. Far from it. It continues to roam around causing pain. Not that I had thought about it much, but when you lose weight, you lose it all over. Not just in the parts you hate. You lose weight in parts of your body that you didn’t think was too bad. As strange as this may sound, but I lost fat from my head (I now own hats that are too big) and even my toes! What that means that I still hate parts of my body. I still hate my chin, my stomach and even under my arms. They may have shrunk, but they always look disgusting to me. The monster isn’t beaten. In fact, it is still a formidable enemy.
To date, the monster still rages. I don’t know when and if it will ever be slain. Perhaps one day I can look at my reflection and see reality. Until then…the battle will continue.