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Growing up I was always the skinny kid who everyone made fun of and called all kinds of names. Luckily I could handle the name-calling and wasn’t shy to throw a few choice ones back. What I couldn’t escape though, was the self-image of being smaller, less masculine than the other boys and I carried this into adulthood.

With that skinny kid self-image well engrained I ate and drank what I wanted for most of my life never worrying about the consequences because hey, that’s for fat people. I saw my schoolmates marry, have kids, balloon and turn grey whilst I was the smug young looking skinny guy. That was, until a recent visit to the doctor.

I know my body is nowhere near what it used to be and i have picked up a few kilos, or so I thought. Along with the rest of the world I made a commitment to get fit this year and  literally hit the ground running. I’ve been running at least 4 days a week since the year began slowly building up my stamina. In that effort I started getting terrible shin splints then a fever so I went to the doctor. What he told me changed my life.

For the first time in my life I’m overweight. My legs can’t take the strain of running because I am so heavy that if I continue road-running at this weight I will start getting micro-fractures in my foot and shin bones. I could not believe what I was hearing and in a daze I stepped onto the scale again just to be sure, I weigh ninety kilograms. The last time I weighed myself I was barely eighty kilos, how was this possible? “For your height you need to lose at least ten kilos to be safe before you start developing complications” the doctor said.

I got home, went to the bathroom and had a good hard look at this overweight person in the mirror. Here’s the kicker, I still  didn’t see it. Here I am, having just been told I have a weight problem and I’m still seeing that skinny kid from my youth. It then starts to dawn on me what a number I have done on myself.

Over the next few hours I thought through how I stopped exercising, started eating more of everything, how I drank more, how it took me longer and longer to recover from a night out, the more than occasional shortness of breath and the denial. The years and years of denial. In those hours a new picture started to form, a realistic picture of who I had let myself become. When I stood in front of the mirror again, the skinny kid was gone.

Thankfully I have already started exercising and I am committed to it so I just have to adjust my routine accordingly, the killer is the diet. Trying to eat 6 small meals and constantly ingest fluids is damn hard. I have my motivation though, a little girl who’s growing up fast and won’t understand why daddy’s always too tired to play with her.

My father used to say to me “you don’t want to be the oldest dad at your child’s sports day”, chances are I’ll be amongst the older dads but I’ll be damned if I don’t kick those young bucks in the fathers’ 100 metre dash. It will be great being that skinny guy again, but this time with the wisdom that comes from letting yourself go and then fighting to get back to who you were again, I look forward to winning this struggle.

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