Andy Richardson: Being pea head is a small price to pay for weight loss
I looked at the crisps. The crisps looked at me. ‘Do you fancy it?’ they winked, as they shimmied in their golden packet?
Nah, I thought, as I maintained my calorie deficit and continued my journey to the promised land: yes, a size 30 waist, the sort of thing I haven’t enjoyed in the best part of 20 years.
It’s been three months since my quest began to return to being, well, less unhealthy and less fat. An aquamarine-coloured app on my phone shows a slow, steady, downward curve as the weight has fallen away consistently. Bye. Won’t miss you.
I’ve enjoyed compliments and endured bad jokes – the worst of which, I think, was being called pea head, a sobriquet that I still don’t understand. Apparently, it was something to do with having a head that looked bigger now my stomach doesn’t look so round. But whenever you have to explain a joke, you know it’s fallen flat.
Clothes that had embarrassed and revealed the full volume of my butter chicken intake me now fit just right. In just three months, I’ve progressed more than halfway to the promised land.
Of course, we’ve been here before. After beginning lockdown by rooting myself to the sofa and eating my own bodyweight in Walker’s Sensations, I made the most of the time at home by exercising more than I had in years.
Two stone was shed in a relatively short time – only for it to return the moment I’d hit an arbitrary target and decided to celebrate by gorging on all the stuff I’d not eaten for six months. Yoyo, rather than peahead, would have been a more apt nickname.
And now we’re on that path again. We’re pretty much two stones into project get-healthy.
Energy levels have returned. There’s a spring in my step. And I don’t drool every time I walk past a bakery. Well, maybe just a little.
Here’s the thing. For a little while – though it felt like an eternity – I was fit. I’d run 36 miles a week – though sometimes as many as 70 – as I ran marathons at weekends. As you do. I’d eat a whole loaf for breakfast; thank you, the bakeries of Ludlow, and think nothing of it as I’d hit the road after work and run a mid-tempo six miles. The weight fell off me, I had more energy than the bright side of the sun, and the clothes I was able to wear reminded me of being a teen.
And then I got comfortable. I got married and fat. Then divorced and skinny.
Then married (again) and fat. Then divorced and skinny again. Then happy. And fat. Yeah, yoyo sounds about right.
And the truth is that I’ve spent more time overweight than I have in good shape.
And yet, in my mind’s eye, I’m stuck in 30’ jeans and able to run six miles at the drop of a hat. Rather than spending year after year after year wearing jogging bottoms with elasticated waists because I just can’t keep away from the fridge.
I’ve got a routine. It’s this: intermittent fasting. I’ve nipped the night-time fridge raid in the bud, by introducing an element of discipline to my routine.
And, remarkably, it works. When it gets late and I fancy a snack, I content myself with the fact it’ll soon be morning and time to hit the kitchen.
I don’t skip any foods that I like.
In fact, the opposite’s become true.
As my intermittent fasting – 80 days, and counting – has taken me ever closer to my target, I’ve enjoyed better and better food.
I’ve figured a simple truth, if I’m not going to eat as much, I might as well eat really good stuff. And so the pointless calories have been replaced by foods that are genuinely worth eating.
Of course, it could still go wrong. I might easily head back into yoyo mode and put it all back on – though I might just as easily decided I like being slimmer and healthier and able to wear the clothes I spent a small fortune on.
Forgoing the odd packet of crisps seems a small price to pay for that.