July 14, 2004
This is a motivational story based on my own experience. Whilst on face of it, it may purely inspire those trying to lose weight, it is actually designed to encourage anyone who feels that they are in an impossible situation and feel it is too late to do anything about it.|
As a child there was something different about me. I was bright, funny and healthy, so why did other people treat me with such contempt. I was suffering from a kind of prejudice that is still prevalent today. I was fat. With this prejudice came several assumptions. Because I was fat I was obviously lazy. Because I was fat I was obviously stupid. Because I was fat I smelt, I was unfashionable, I didn't deserve friends.
For reasons far beyond the scope of this tale, family life was difficult for me as a child, so I sought solace in the only thing that made me happy. That thing was food. So from a very young age I was caught in a trap. My weight made me depressed, so I ate to take away those feelings of sorrow. In turn, the food made me put on weight. By the time I was eight I was in adult clothing. It was a little long in the leg maybe, but the waist fitted like a dream.
As the years went by, the few people I felt I could call friends drifted away and I became a victim of bullying at school. I was lucky that there was never anything physical, but the name calling was awful. Even stares in the playground became unbearable. The school seemed to take the attitude that it was my fault. If I lost weight all the bullying would stop. They were probably right, but I couldn't find the heart to lose weight and couldn't stand another minute at that school. At the age of 14 I dropped out and became a virtual recluse, sometimes even refusing to leave my room, let alone my house.
My teenage years passed me by. As my peers were out in pubs and clubs, getting jobs and finding girlfriends, I stayed in my room. My doctor showed terrible concern for me, finally advising that my weight was likely to kill me and my quality of life prior to this was to be severely reduced. All this was water off a ducks back - I had no quality of life so perhaps if I did nothing and let the inevitable happen I would feel no more pain.
But there was a small part of me that wanted my life back. My soul had been buried under folds of fat and was screaming to be revealed. I took a look in the mirror. I was soon to be 21 years old. I weighed over 400 pounds. I was unqualified, unemployed, penniless and without a friend in the world. I wore rags tied up with string because at this time there were no specialist shops to deal with 'large physiques'. There had to be more to life than this! I made the decision that I was going to lose weight.
For my 21st birthday I received a set of cheap plastic dumbbells and I set off to the library to find out information on how my body worked. If I could figure out how my body had become this terrible mess, perhaps I could reverse the process.
I reduced the calories in my diet and tried to cut out as much fat as I could. I began to go walking - just a couple of hundred yards at first because I became very breathless and my legs became sore as the layers of fat rubbed together. But after a few weeks the distance began to increase. After a short time the scales (two sets, because one set wouldn't hold my weight!) began to show a loss of weight.
This was the first time in my life that my weight hadn't actually gone up! This gave me tremendous motivation to carry on. Pound after pound the weight slipped away, and after two years I had finally hit my target weight. I had lost about 250 pounds. But I couldn't get back my childhood. I was still unqualified, unemployed and without friends. The difference now was that I had the confidence to do something about it. I had found something I was good at, I just had to find a way to take that forward. I approached a local charitable trust that was impressed by my achievement and they provided me with a grant to become a qualified fitness instructor.
I had grown to love exercise and the money I made I ploughed back into my business so I could learn more exercise techniques.
This was over ten years ago, and I have bucked the trend of yo-yo dieting. I am still slim and run my own personal training business and have a completely different life full of satisfaction and fulfilment. I also run the Overweight and Obesity Organization, a non-profit organization that sets out to give help, advice and support to those who are now in a similar position to that which I was in over a decade ago. I don't wish the feelings I had in my youth upon anyone, and this is my way of trying to help.
--- Copyright © 2004 Jon LeBon